Tag Archives: rescue

China quake survivors spend second night in freezing cold

Battling bitingly cold weather and a lack of oxygen, rescue workers clawed with their bare hands through the rubble of homes and schools toppled by the 6.9 magnitude quake that hit Yushu county in Qinghai province on Wednesday.

Officials said medical teams and supplies such as tents and quilts were on their way to the zone, where doctors set up makeshift hospitals to treat victims of the deadliest quake in China in two years.

But thousands spent another night without shelter in freezing temperatures after the quake destroyed almost all the mudbrick and wooden houses in Jiegu, the local capital, and flattened schools.

“I lost my husband and I lost my house,” Gandan, a Jiegu resident, told AFP, her son and daughter at her side. All three were living in a tent with other people, with one bowl of barley to share.

“We don’t know what to do, we have no food,” she said, standing by the tent a stone’s throw from her collapsed mud and brick house.

China quake devastates stunned town

The number who perished rose to 760, including dozens of children, while 11,477 were injured, the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting rescue coordinators.

The death toll is expected to rise further, with 243 still buried, and local officials say they were short of medical supplies and large digging equipment.

“The rescue job in this disaster zone faces many difficulties,” said Miao Chonggang, of the China Earthquake Administration, which is coordinating more than 7,000 rescuers.

President Hu Jintao cut short a Latin American tour and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao postponed a trip to Southeast Asia.

Hu told a news conference in Brasilia the quake was “a huge calamity which resulted in big losses of human life”.

Chinese president calls quake ‘huge calamity’

Wen on Thursday visited the quake zone, an underdeveloped area of the Tibetan plateau known as the “Roof of the World”.

“The top priority is to save people. We will never give up even if there is only a slim hope,” Wen told a meeting at the quake-relief headquarters in Yushu, according to Xinhua.

Soldiers, police and firefighters used shovels, iron bars and bare hands to dig through the mangled piles of concrete and rubble from 15,000 toppled homes.

Foreign governments offered help as international aid officials warned that the priorities would be providing shelter, medical aid, food and water and ensuring sanitation to prevent the spread of disease.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of Internet users have been showing their solidarity with the quake victims by posting virtual flowers in online “mourning halls” and donating to appeals, Xinhua said.

Jiegu lies around 800 kilometres (500 miles) by road from the provincial capital Xining, about 4,000 metres above sea level, meaning rescue workers from outside the region struggled to cope with the lack of oxygen.

The government said electricity and phone links had been restored to dozens of towns but the difficult terrain, including deep canyons, and the bitter cold and remoteness of the area were hampering rescue efforts.

Dazed survivors told harrowing stories of loved ones crushed under their homes.

“There are 10 people in my family and only four of us escaped. One of my relatives died. All the others are buried under the rubble,” Samdrup Gyatso, 17, told Xinhua after his two-storey home crumbled.

Facts on China quake zone

Among the dead were at least 66 pupils and 10 teachers, Xinhua said, quoting local authorities, as grieving parents waited for news near the ruins of the schools, where discarded school books and clothes lay.

Xinhua said a baby boy had been born in a tent near the epicentre shortly after the quake.

“It must be the first life that came to the world after the disaster,” Huang Changmei, a doctor, told the agency.

“The baby brought hope to the ruined place.”

The devastation was reminiscent of the huge quake in May 2008 in Sichuan province, where thousands of children were among 87,000 deaths when their shoddily-constructed schools collapsed.

Schoolbooks strewn in China quake rubble as children perish

Xu Mei, of the education ministry, denied a media report that around 200 children had been buried in the ruins of a primary school in Wednesday’s quake.

In Beijing, Zou Ming, the head of the government’s disaster relief department, said nearly 40,000 tents, 120,000 articles of clothing, 120,000 quilts and food were being dispatched.

Police: Hard to know Taiwan village mudslide toll


Police: Hard to know Taiwan village mudslide toll

CISHAN, Taiwan — Police said Wednesday that there is no way to know for sure how many people remain buried in the catastrophic mudslide that struck a remote mountain village in Taiwan over the weekend when a typhoon lashed the region.

Survivors fear that hundreds are dead in the southern village of Shiao Lin, and Cishan police chief Lee Chin-lung said efforts to pluck survivors from the village were continuing for a fourth day.

The doomed community of Shiao Lin and its densely foliated surroundings were buried under tons of mud Sunday morning after torrential rain spawned by Typhoon Morakot unleashed the heaviest flooding Taiwan has seen in 50 years.

Morakot, which means “emerald” in the Thai language, struck the Philippines, Taiwan and China and left at least 93 people dead, most of them in Taiwan. It dumped as much as 80 inches (two meters) of rain on the island before moving on to China, where authorities evacuated 1.5 million people and some 10,000 homes were destroyed.

Shiao Lin and its surroundings remain cut off from the outside world. Rains from the typhoon washed out a nearby bridge, and since Sunday the only access has been by military helicopter.

On Tuesday some 120 chopper flights brought about 300 people from Shiao Lin and its surroundings to Cishan, the hardscrabble town in the southern Taiwanese county of Kaohsiung that is serving as the center for rescue operations.

Lee said that 200 of those air lifted out came from Shiao Lin itself, but it was nearly impossible to estimate how many might still be there — either alive or buried under the rubble.

“We’ve got some people out,” Lee said. “But it is extremely hard to know how many remain there.”

Taiwan’s population register says that Shiao Lin has 1,300 inhabitants, though many, Lee said, were believed to be living elsewhere.

Some rescued villagers said that as many as 600 people may have been buried alive when the mudslide hit. On Tuesday, the National Fire Agency put that number at 100, without offering any evidence to support the claim. The military said later that day its rescue missions had located another 200 survivors from Shiao Lin in a nearby field and will try to ferry them out.

On Tuesday, a government helicopter crashed into a mountain as it flew on a rescue mission in the southern county of Pingtung. Li Wen-cheng, an official with the fire department there, said Wednesday that all three people aboard had been found dead.

The official death toll from Typhoon Morakot stands at 63 in Taiwan, while authorities say another 61 are missing. That figure is mostly people killed from flooding and does not include people from Shiao Lin and its surroundings.

Outside of Taiwan, Morakot also claimed 22 lives in the Philippines. After pummeling Taiwan, Morakot slammed into China’s Fujian province, bringing heavy rain and winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Authorities ordered 1.5 million people to leave the area, sending them to schools, government offices, hospitals and the homes of relatives, where they will remain until the rain stops and waters recede, the Civil Affairs Ministry has said.

Morakot damaged or destroyed more than 10,000 homes and flooded over 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) of cropland, the ministry said. It said direct economic losses have been estimated at 9.7 billion yuan ($1.4 billion).

The heavy rains triggered a massive landslide in Pengxi, a town in Wenzhou city of eastern China’s Zhejiang province, destroying seven three-story apartment buildings at the foot of a mountain late Monday, an official surnamed Chen from the Pengxi government told The Associated Press.

Xinhua reported that an unknown number of residents were buried in the landslide, though Chen put the number at six. All were pulled out alive but two later died of their injuries, he said.

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China comes to Canary Wharf company’s rescue


China comes to Canary Wharf company’s rescue

LONDON  – China?s state sovereign wealth fund has bailed out the heavily indebted majority owner of London‘s Canary Wharf, according to the real estate development’s owner.

The Financial Times newspaper reported that the move by China Investment Corporation (CIC) was its first big investment in Britain.

The owners of Canary Wharf, Songbird Estates, said in a statement that CIC would form a consortium with Qatar Holding, the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, and a number of existing investors, to provide more than 800 million pounds (900 million euros, 1.3 billion dollars) in new equity.

The money is needed to pay 880 million pounds that Songbird owes to US bank Citigroup. David Pritchard, the chairman of Songbird, said the deal had saved Songbird from bankruptcy.

“This deal secures the future of Songbird on the best possible basis for our shareholders,” he added.

Qatar will become the largest shareholder in the group with a stake of just below 30 percent with US private investor Simon Glick taking 27 per cent and CIC taking around 19 percent, the Financial Times said.

The Canary Wharf development in east London‘s Docklands houses the offices of major banks and media and newspaper groups.

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