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Anxious wait for milk powder

By AN BAIJIE (China Daily)

08:45, April 24, 2013

Feng Caixia had been anxious for three days — unable to find any milk formula for her 1-year-old son since the earthquake struck on Saturday.

Feng, 24, a villager from Siyan township in Lushan county, Sichuan province, rescued her son from the quake with the help of her husband. But the couple failed to find any milk powder for the baby.

"My son ate instant noodles, biscuits and porridge in recent days, which cannot provide sufficient nutrition for him," she said.

But on Monday, Feng learned from other villagers that volunteers were distributing milk powder in the downtown area of Lushan county. On Tuesday morning, she walked for about 3 km to the area and found the milk products stall.

Even though it was raining heavily, a long line had formed in front of the stall when Feng arrived.

She managed to get a pack of milk powder weighing 400 grams after waiting for nearly an hour. The pack will only meet the demands of her son for about three days, but she plans to give the baby less in case she cannot find further supplies.

With milk powder supplies running short, people could only obtain one pack after presenting the baby's birth certificate.

Zeng Guangmei, an employee with dairy company Wissun International Group who arrived in Lushan county on Monday afternoon, said demand for milk powder far exceeds supply in the quake-hit region.

"There were so many people coming to ask for milk powder Monday afternoon that we had to split one group into two, or even three, to help as many people as possible," she said.

Zeng distributed 200 packs of milk powder on Tuesday morning. Many young parents who failed to get any remained standing near her stall after hearing that another batch would arrive in the afternoon.

The company plans to send in more supplies to meet demand, but this takes time as it is based in Fujian province, Zeng said.

An employee from the Yili Group dairy company, who declined to be identified, said even though some people forgot to bring their children's birth certificates, those arriving with their babies were able to obtain milk powder from the company's stall in Lushan county.

"We believe that most of those who came were in urgent need," he said.

The employee said one woman burst into tears on Monday afternoon after getting milk powder for her son and two nieces.

"The woman had been breastfeeding the three babies since the nieces' mother didn't have enough breast milk," he said.

On Tuesday, the company sent 50,000 packs of milk powder to Longmen township, the epicenter of the quake. The government will take charge of distribution, he said.

Feng, the 24-year-old mother, also said diapers are out of supply in all the township's stores.

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