- Title: CHINA: China evacuates almost 20,000 from hazardous "quake lakes"
- Date: 30th May 2008
- Summary: (BN04) CHENGDU, CHINA (MAY 30, 2008) (REUTERS) CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER YANG JIECHI ARRIVING AT HOSPITAL AND SHAKING HANDS WITH BRITISH RELIEF TEAM YANG SURROUNDED BY HOSPITAL MEDICAL STAFF MEDICAL STAFF YANG SHAKING PATIENTS HAND MEDICAL STAFF LISTENING TO YANG JIECHI (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) YANG JIECHI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER, SAYING: "The emergency response team and their work are furthering the friendship of China and the U.K." BRITISH MEDICAL STAFF (SOUNDBITE) (English) TONY REDMOND, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL AND EMERGENCY MEDICINE AT MANCHESTER UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "From outside its very hard to get a sense of the scale of this and the amount of organisation which is required to manage so many casualties over such a large area. With an unfolding disaster, as I say, with another one coming in, the aftershock was very big and caused more casualties and more damage, set against them having to respond to this large scale disaster and plan for what might be an even bigger disaster with all the water that is building up with all the water and the floods and the quake lakes." VARIOUS OF BRITISH TEAM AND YANG STANDING HOLDING A BANNER
- Embargoed: 14th June 2008 18:02
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes,Social Services / Welfare
- Reuters ID: LVAABIV7EQJV9DH4PAGR7DS4IDVP
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: China evacuates around 20,000 people living below the "quake lakes" as concerns grow that the banks will burst.
Two weeks after the May 12 quake, China was still struggling with the aftermath of the worst earthquake in over 30 years as thousands are evacuated for fear of "quake lakes" bursting its banks and flooding towns.
Concern has been mounting over a series of hazardous "quake lakes" that formed when landslides blocked the normal course of rivers.
China has funnelled an extra one billion yuan (144.2 million U.S.
dollars (USD)) into relief work on an estimated 35 such lakes, in addition to 400 million yuan already allotted to work on smaller, damaged dams.
Authorities have already evacuated more than 190,000 people living below the biggest of the quake lakes at Tangjiashan, Beichuan county, as the high water level threatens to burst the barrier, causing massive devastation to settlements downriver.
On Thursday (May 29), the water level was 745.5 meters, state media said, just 22.78 meters from the lowest barrier.
Authorities have launched an operation to remove some of the debris in order to drain the water, transporting mechanical diggers by military helicopter to shovel the mountain of earth and rocks that is blocking the river's flow.
Work had been hampered by bad weather until Thursday afternoon, when the weather cleared somewhat, allowing supplies to be flown in more easily to assist some 1,000 People's Liberation Army troops working to stabilise the lake.
People who have been relocated have moved to tents in temporary safety zones positioned on higher ground.
A massive relief effort, which involves providing food, tents and clothing for millions and the reconstruction of housing and infrastructure, including the many destroyed schools, is expected to take up to three years.
Meanwhile, a shipment of tents from Germany arrived in Sichuan on Thursday.
The German consulate based in Chengdu presented them to the government and expressed their deepest condolences to the victims.
"We are very happy that much of the aid we have offered has already arrived in the affected region in China," an unidentified German aid team member said.
Over 4,000 large civilian tents, which were donated by Jinde Charities, in collaboration with Caritas Germany and the German government, touched down at Chengdu's Shuangliu airport, state television reported.
"Each flight contains roughly 2000 family tents so this second flight would be in total now in China 4050 tents," a German aid worker told reporters.
Donations from home and abroad had reached 37.3 billion yuan (USD 5.38 billion) by Thursday (May 29), up 2.5 billion yuan (USD 360 million) from the previous day, the Information Office of the State Council said As well as providing much needed supplies to affected areas, many foreign countries have also sent medical teams to help treat the thousands of seriously injured.
A British medical team, flown in a week ago into Sichuan's disaster zone, on Friday (May 30) met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
Yang told the team China was grateful for the help from abroad when he visited them at Chengdu People's No. 2 Hospital where the seven medics have been helping emergency work.
"The emergency response team and their work are furthering the friendship of China and the U.K.," he said.
Tony Redmond, Professor of International and Emergency Medicine at Manchester University said one of the difficulties of the Sichuan earthquake was that the relief teams had to anticipate several different situations at once.
"From outside its very hard to get a sense of the scale of this and the amount of organisation which is required to manage so many casualties over such a large area. With an unfolding disaster, as I say, with another one coming in, the aftershock was very big and caused more casualties and more damage, set against them having to respond to this large scale disaster and plan for what might be an even bigger disaster with all the water that is building up with all the water and the floods and the quake lakes,"
Hundreds of thousands of people have been injured in the 7.9-magnitude quake and up to 80,000 people are missing or dead. Redmond said that many patients were suffering spinal injuries from jumping out of toppling buildings, having chosen to jump rather than be trapped inside.
The earthquake aftershocks continue to rattle the region, causing further difficulties for the medical staff.
The British team will leave later on Friday but will return to the region in a few weeks time to help the badly injured patients with rehabilitation.
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