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Chinese people battle to offer quake-relief aid


08:19, April 22, 2013

BEIJING, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Guo Liuyan had a sleepless night on Saturday, as she waited in Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport to deliver three tonnes of medicine and two tonnes of lifting jacks to Chengdu Red Cross.

The organization later transported the goods to Lushan County, where a 7.0-magnitude earthquake has left 186 dead and tens of thousands injured so far.

"The goods were sent from Shanghai to Chongqing in less than ten hours since the quake happened by private enterprises in Shanghai, and arrived in Lushan within 24 hours," said Guo, an employer of a real estate company in Chongqing.

Just hours after the earthquake happened, many Chinese people like Guo helped in delivering relief goods that may be of life-and-death importance to victims.

Others are heading to quake-stricken areas to save lives.

After the earthquake, Shanghai East Hospital assembled an emergency medical rescue team of five cars and 48 doctors and nurses within two hours and planned to set up a mobile hospital in the quake-stricken area.

"Such a quick response was unimaginable after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake," said Li Zengchu, leader of the rescue team that was one of 16 national medical response teams approved by the government last year.

Five years after the disastrous 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit Wenchuan in southwest China, leaving 87,000 dead or missing, Chinese people have been quicker, more rational, and more professional in offering quake-relief aid.

"The mobilization of social forces and volunteers, the input of social resources and distribution of rescue materials have all made progress," said Wang Shaoyu, a public security planning and risk management expert with Harbin Institute of Technology.

China's famous twitter-like service became a platform for individual volunteers, private enterprises, charity funds, non-government rescue teams to build up their strength.

The One Foundation initiated by Chinese movie star Jet Li set up a donation account on Saturday, and received more than 15 million yuan (2.4 million U.S. dollars) in donations from 230,000 individuals and enterprises by the end of the day.

The foundation has already sent bottled water, flashlights, tents to the quake-stricken area, and it is releasing latest rescue progress on its official microblog account.

"A transparent and influential fund like One Foundation is trustworthy. One individual may be meager, but we can help victims a lot if we group together," said Gu Shen, a college student in Beijing who donated 500 yuan to the fund.

Many Wenchuan earthquake volunteers also posted microblogs, warning that grassroots teams rushing to the quake zone may be counterproductive as they could block the way for government rescue teams that are professional and experienced.

In an article reflecting on his voluntary experience in Wenchuan, the Chinese author Han Han said the best way is to release a list of urgently needed goods and then have them delivered to the quake zone.

His article was reposted more than 245,000 times on, and many are doing what he called for and be a supplement rescue power.

"If government rescuers are stones to fill in a bottle, then volunteers are sand that can take up the space between the stones," said a netizen with the screen name "Yongjiatiankong."

Lei Xiaoxue, former anchor woman of Sichuan Television who reported live on the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, said she saw everyone doing their jobs.

"When information from fire brigades, hospitals, and civil affairs departments flooded in, everyone wanted to help but didn't know what to do first in 2008. I'm glad we know how to help now," said Lei.

"China's emergency response system on disasters has made great progress after the Wenchuan earthquake," said Teng Wuxiao, professor at the urban public security research center in Shanghai-based Fudan University.

But experts also pointed out areas for improvement.

"China needs a mechanism to decide how, when, and where to allocate rescue workers and relief goods when dealing with different types and levels of disasters," said Wang Shaoyu.

"The government should also set forth emergency treatment skill standards for volunteers."

Related Reading:

Chinese president orders all-out rescue efforts after strong quake

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered all-out measures to rescue victims and minimize casualties after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit southwestern province of Sichuan Saturday morning.

Chinese Premier visits epicenter after deadly quake

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday afternoon visited the area torn by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in China's Sichuan Province, calling for wasting no time to save lives.

First night after deadly earthquake in Lushan Country, Sichuan

A 7.0- magnitude earthquake which hit Lushan County on April 20 morning damaged the Lushan People's Hospital and doctors had to erect temporary tents outside the hosptial to treat the injured people.

Death toll still climbing over China quake

As of 3 p.m. today, 186 people have been killed and 21 have gone missing in the earthquake that hit southwest China's Sichuan province Saturday morning

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