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Home / China / Rescue work underway after Gansu earthquake

Volunteers extend helping hands in quake zone

By WANG XIAOYU and MA JINGNA in Jishishan county, Gansu | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-23 07:30
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Volunteers transfer disaster relief materials at Liugou township, Jishishan county, Northwest China's Gansu province, Dec 20, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

Volunteers have rushed to lend a helping hand in regions stricken by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake in Northwest China as search operations in some areas are nearing the end and efforts are underway to ensure safe shelter and sanitation for affected villagers.

The death toll of the quake that struck Gansu and Qinghai provinces around midnight on Monday has risen to 148, with nearly 1,000 injured, according to local authorities.

Three people remain missing in Haidong city in Qinghai and rescuers were still searching for them, local officials said during a news conference on Friday morning.

Authorities in Gansu said on Wednesday that rescue efforts had basically finished and their focus had shifted to treating the injured and ensuring the safety of displaced residents.

Zhou Yuexiong, a volunteer of the Red Cross Society of China's branch in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, did not hesitate to join the team arriving at Jishishan on Tuesday night despite the fact that his wedding was planned for next week.

"My fiancee was reluctant to let me go because she was worried about my safety if aftershocks happen and was afraid that I might not be able to make it back in time for the big event," said the 26-year-old.

But as a veteran who now teaches calligraphy at a primary school in Yinchuan, provincial capital of Ningxia, Zhou said that he is driven by a sense of responsibility to participate in rescue and relief work in the aftermath of disasters.

Ningxia, where Zhou comes from, borders Gansu. "Red Cross organizations in the two regions and the broader northwestern parts of China are tightly bonded under a Red Cross mechanism and I feel like I came here to help my family," he said.

Zhou Zhijun, head of the 15-strong team from the Red Cross' Ningxia branch, said that four on his team were Red Cross personnel and the remaining were volunteers with full-time jobs. They also brought 500 tents, 500 folding beds and 4,500 jackets among other aid supplies.

"When I called to ask them to participate in the mission, nearly all signed up immediately," he said.

Zhou, 47, had participated in rescue and relief work for the earthquake that hit Ludian county in Yunnan province in 2014, the flooding in Henan province in 2021 and the widespread flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka in 2016.

"The biggest challenge during this mission in Gansu I think is the frigid temperatures," he added.

Local officials have said that cotton tents, quilts, jackets and heat stoves are the most urgently needed supplies in stricken communities.

Zhang Xiao, a 35-year-old government worker from Pingliang, a city in Gansu province, drove his sedan to shuttle 30 boxes of instant noodles and 30 boxes of bottled water. "I had to peel off some packages of the instant noodles to fill as many as possible in the car," he said.

Zhang arrived at Jishishan around 3 am on Wednesday and his donations made it into the hands of local residents near noon.

An owner of a bakery at the county seat of Jishishan, surnamed Yang, was busy packing bags of bread rolls on Wednesday evening. "Today we are closed and are devoting all our time to making these little buns to be donated to quake-hit areas," he said.

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