The 6.6 magnitude quake, which struck the county of Lushan just after 8am last Saturday, was felt over 60 miles away in SOS Children’s Village Chengdu.
“We felt strong shocks,” said a spokesperson for the Village. “Buildings were shaking tremendously.”
Fortunately, damage was minimal. “Aside from a few tiles that dropped off a roof, there was no damage and nobody was injured,” the spokesperson reported.
Much of the region around the epicentre in Lushan has been devastated, with homes left in ruins, bridges and roads destroyed, and telephone cables severed. More than 700 aftershocks have been recorded since the initial tremor, causing further damage to buildings and increasing the risk of collapse. Although the nearest major city of Ya’an appears to have escaped major damage, CCTV footage suggests whole villages near the epicentre have been flattened.
SOS Children has offered to care for any children who have lost their parents in the disaster, and is ready to deliver help in the ongoing efforts to rescue survivors and support those whose lives have been devastated.
So far, rescue work has been hindered by narrow roads, where access has been impeded by landslides caused by the quake. Government controls put in place to reduce traffic jams have also delayed relief efforts. Many people are urgently in need of medical care and supplies, much of which is currently being delivered by air.
This week’s events evoke memories of the much deadlier quake which struck Sichuan five years ago. Measuring 7.9 in magnitude, the 2008 disaster left around 70,000 people dead and some five million homeless.
In the aftermath of this catastrophic quake, SOS Children offered immediate and long-term support to those affected. Temporary care was extended to children who had lost their parents, and shelter made available to those left without a home.
Staff and young people from our Chengdu Village volunteered to help the relief effort, offering emotional and psychological support to survivors, and acting as drivers and translators at hospitals in the disaster zone. SOS Children also ran workshops designed to help affected children come to terms with the trauma they had experienced and begin to return to a normal life.
In 2008, many poorly-constructed schools throughout Sichuan were destroyed in the quake. The public outcry which resulted led to a national programme of rebuilding. Consequently, all schools have withstood the tremors this time around, meaning children will be able to return to school much sooner and disruption to education minimal.
SOS Children remains prepared to help children and families in Sichuan province cope with the devastation of the quake and return to normality as soon as possible.
SOS Children has worked in China since 1986, and our Village in Chengdu opened in 1997. Learn more about our work across China.