Thousands of children affected by China earthquake

Thursday 15 April 2010, 10:12AM
By Save the Children NZ

15 April 2010 - Children are likely to be the worst affected by the Qinghai earthquake which has killed hundreds of people, warns Save the Children.

The quake, which measured 7.1 according to Chinese media on the Richter scale has left most buildings wrecked in the worst-hit town of Jiegu according to reports, while landslides have cut off the roads in an area which is quite remote and difficult to reach in normal times. The town has a population of around 100,000.

Wyndham James, Save the Children's director in China said that the charity was urgently contacting organisations it works within the region and working with the Chinese government to assess the situation.

"This happened just before 8am when most people would have been at home or on their way to work. School starts in Yushu County at 8.30am for most children. But there are also boarding schools for children coming in from the country and so we have particular concerns about their situation. According to news in China, at one boarding school of 1,000 children, the buildings toppled and five pupils died. They hadn’t yet started classes and rushed out from their dormitories.

“Children may have been injured and will have to deal with the trauma of what they've been through - seeing their homes destroyed, their parents or siblings killed or injured. They may also have been separated from their families and will urgently need protection."

The remote high-altitude region is prone to earthquakes, but officials said this was the strongest quake within 100km of the area since 1976.

Mr James continued: "There have been over 18 aftershocks, so this leaves everyone feeling very nervous. As with other disasters the government has already mobilised 700 soldiers and over 5,000 tents together with specialist teams from Beijing, Lhasa in Tibet and from Xining the provincial capital. We will decide shortly with our partners what help we should give and whether we should send in a team to help."

Save the Children has set up a Children’s Emergency Fund to assist quickly in disaster situations like this.

Donations can be made in several ways:
- Call 0800 167 168
- Send a cheque, made out to Save the Children, to Freepost PO Box 6584, Marion Square, Wellington. Mark your envelope Children’s Emergency Fund and don’t forget to add your name and address so we can send you a receipt.

For further information including interviews with people on the ground, please contact Nicole Were, Communications Advisor, Save the Children New Zealand, phone 04.381.7573 / 027.200.9348.