UNICEF concerned about children affected by powerful earthquake in China
SICHUAN, China, 13 May 2008 – UNICEF expressed growing alarm today about children affected by a powerful earthquake in southwestern China that toppled houses and schools, leaving at least 60 students dead and, at latest count, over 4,700 children buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings.
“Information about this devastating earthquake has been coming in very slowly today. With each piece of news it seems another large group of school children has been found struggling to survive under the collapsed walls of their school,” said UNICEF Representative and Chair of the UN Disaster Management Team in China Dr. Yin Yin Nwe. “We are very worried about the effect of this disaster, particularly on children.”
UNICEF and other UN agencies in China are standing by, ready to provide assistance in the event they are called upon by government authorities.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Wenchuan County in Sichuan Province during school and business hours. It devastated a number of neighbouring cities and towns, claiming an estimated total of 12,000 lives so far in eight affected provinces and municipalities – some in mountainous, difficult-to-access terrain.
Searching for survivors
Earlier in the day, rescuers were searching in the rain for survivors after a multi-story school in Beichuan County collapsed. About 1,000 students and teachers were feared dead or missing.
“We need food and water most at present,” said student Chen Linglin.
There are also disturbing reports of causalities coming from other quake-stricken areas.
Fewer than 100 students out of 420 survived in a collapsed middle school in Xiang’e Township, in one of the worst-hit areas of Dujiangyan. This adds to an earlier account that 900 students were feared buried under the wreckage of Dujiangyan's Juyuan Township Middle School.
"We are in urgent need of tents, food, medicine and satellite communications equipment through air drop. We also need medical workers to save the injured people here," said Wenchuan County Secretary Wang Bin, according to the Xinhua news agency.