China Struggles to Shelter Millions of Quake’s Homeless (Photos Added)

As rescue efforts come to an end, and the death toll rises to 62,000, officials in China are now focusing on resolving a series of urgent problems created by the Sichuan earthquake, including finding shelter for the at least five million people left homeless. They are making urgent appeals globally for tents. From the New York Times:

The appeals came as the death toll in the May 12 earthquake, the country’s worst natural disaster in more than three decades, was raised to 62,000 people, with more than 350,000 injured and about 23,000 still missing.

Concerns remain about severely damaged dams, chemical plants and other infrastructure, and there have been warnings that artificial lakes created by the earthquake could breach their banks and that crowding in refugee camps could spread disease.

“The needs here are tremendous,” said Nicolas Tocqué, an emergency logistics coordinator working in Sichuan for Doctors Without Borders, the international aid agency. “There are people with no place to go.”

Read also “China turns attention to finding shelter for quake survivors” from the International Herald Tribune. Meanwhile, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports on efforts to build shelters for the homeless:

Under its plans, the government will allocate a plot of about 20 square meters per household although smaller residences are also being constructed.

Also, the locations of the temporary accommodations and the materials used vary considerably depending on the area.

Some experts predict problems will emerge when people become aware of these disparities in the quality of the allocated temporary residences.

As the lots were acquired hastily, problems may also arise over the forced evacuation of residents and the construction of temporary residences in remote areas, they said.

According to Xinhua, nine million people are now without potable water. Also, lakes that were formed by the earthquake are posing new threats. From Reuters:

The frenzied initial rescue response is cooling into a long battle with nature, deprivation and latent discontent sure to last long after thousands of aftershocks.

Chinese soldiers carrying 10 kg of dynamite each arrived on Monday at the Tangjiashan lake, one of dozens formed by the earthquake, to try to blast away rubble, Xinhua news agency said, as heavy rain and high winds were forecast.

The lake’s barrier was in danger of bursting after the water rose by nearly two metres on Saturday to 723 metres, only 29 metres below the lowest part of the barrier.

Photos from a volunteer: children in a earthquake refugee camp, from netease forum, via

May 25, 2008, 9:35 PM
Posted By:
Categories: Society