An elderly man holds a sign asking for help outside his destroyed home in Longmen village on April 22, 2013, after a magnitude 7.0 quake hit Sichuan Province on April 20. Two days after the quake, many villagers had not seen official rescue teams, saying they have no water, food, or tents. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
The disaster situation in Lushan County, Sichuan Province, where a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck on April 20, is far worse than state reports, according to civilian relief workers, who say official aid still had not reached many hard-hit areas after 48 hours. Meanwhile, officials have been restricting civil volunteer teams from entering the area.
Well-known citizen reporter Li Huaping told The Epoch Times that there is a higher number of casualties than is being reported, and authorities are preventing volunteers from entering the disaster area without a permit “as if they are afraid that the truth will be exposed.”
According to Li, the affected area is large, and the number of rescue workers being sent in is insignificant compared with the number of people affected.
No Drinking Water, Cold Nights
Mr. Chen, a Longmen Township resident, told The Epoch Times that people are mainly relying on self-help and help from volunteers. Villagers have had to set up their own tents, and some have been without drinking water for over 30 hours.
“The well water has turned deep green; it’s completely undrinkable and unusable,” he said. “There’s a food shortage too. The only thing we have is a little congee rice porridge.”
The situation is similar in Wuxing village, about three miles from Lushan where people have no water, food, baby formula, medicine, or tents. With few reporters around, no one is aware or paying attention to the problems.
Young people have been using motorbikes to go and get help, according to writer Li Chengpeng, who organized a team of civilians to assist people in the disaster area. They transported tents at night to Wuxing village, he wrote on his microblog.
“The villagers told me the wind is strong at night; it’s very cold, and the water is dirty. No one is paying attention to this place,” Li added. “At 12:30 p.m. on April 21, we sent in the first batch of food on foot and by motorcycle, but this can only scratch the surface. By 11 p.m. on April 21, we had delivered 498 tents, 1,250 quilts, 100 tarpaulins, some sleeping bags, food, drinking water, and medicine to Wuxing and Wangjia villages in Longmen Township.”
Rain Worsening Landslides
Two days after the quake, a villager from Kuaile village, Dachuan Town, told The Epoch Times that rescue teams still had not arrived. Authorities said no one could enter as the roads were blocked.
“We have over 40 people here. All the houses have collapsed, and with everything buried, we urgently need tents, blankets, water, food, and generators. We are almost out of food,” he said.
“It rained this morning, and with the many strong aftershocks, there are serious landslides. People here are in danger. If it rains again tonight, we will be in trouble.”
Volunteer Teams Blocked
On the evening of April 21, the Office of the State Council issued a notice ordering work units and other groups not to enter the disaster area without permission.
Despite the directive, civilian volunteer teams were the first to arrive on the scene and help the victims. Beijing News reported that numerous civilian vehicles rushed to the disaster area straight after the quake.
Many individuals and NGOs posted notices on microblogs that they had immediately dispatched rescue teams and supplies. Xiao Dairong, an employee of New Hope Dairy, said they had transported 5,000 cartons of milk to Qionglai and Lushan Counties.
A post on the official microblog of Baixiang Food Group said: “At 11 p.m. on April 21, we gave out all our instant noodles to people in Lushan County, but many of them would not leave, asking if there would be more tomorrow. We are worried about people’s safety in the disaster area. Seeing their shortage of supplies, made us even more anxious.”
Read the original Chinese article.
Translation by Quincy Yu. Written in English by Gisela Sommer.