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Volunteers shouldn't disrupt overall rescue mission | Updated: 2013-04-22 18:40

The magnitude-7 earthearthquake that jolted Ya'an in Southwest China's Sichuan province on Saturday has left a trail of destruction. In the wake of the disaster, the quake-stricken area is in desperate need of professional and organizational rescue and relief support, says an editorial in Southern Metropolis Daily. (Excerpts below):

Chinese society is once again demonstrating a remarkable volunteer spirit in the face of natural disaster. Volunteers living near Ya'an began to deliver relief goods to the quake-hit area just a few minutes after the earthquake hit. Within a few hours after the bad news spread, volunteers nationwide were eager to take action, and those experienced in rescue and relief work even directly headed for Ya'an.

The military personnel and professional rescue teams are undertaking the major rescue and relief work. Volunteers are also playing a key part in distributing food and water, and arranging temporary shelters and promoting self-rescue knowledge and skills, but concerns meanwhile has surfaced over some spontaneous volunteer activities.

Volunteers flooding into the quake-hit area and spontaneous volunteer activities have to a certain degree added to the pressure of rescue and relief work. In the Wenchuan earthquake five years ago, many volunteers went spontaneously to the quake-hit area or joined some civil groups randomly, and this disrupted rescue and relief efforts instead of extending a helping hand.

Having learned this lesson from the Wenchuan earthquake, government sources and media have repeatedly urged volunteers not to spontaneously enter the quake-hit area so as to keep local transportation unobstructed. On the same day the quake ravaged Ya'an, a two-way road linking Lushan county, one of the hardest-hit areas, to the central part of Ya'an, became congested partly because of the incoming civil groups and volunteers.

It is thus necessary for local rescue and relief headquarters to closely work with civil groups by establishing a coordinating body to manage the volunteer resources. This can ensure a clear division of labor, maximize the strength of volunteerism and avoid possible disorder caused by any spontaneous activity, either in the ongoing rescue and relief work or the following reconstruction.

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