Earthquake in China

Note: The following appeal is now closed.  You can support our ongoing work by donating to the Canadian Red Cross


On May 12, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale devastated China’s south-western province of Sichuan leaving millions in urgent need of emergency assistance. The earthquake killed over 80,000 people, injured 374,000 and left 15 million homeless.

The Red Cross response to the earthquake in China was immediate. Thanks to the tireless efforts of 180,000 thousand local volunteers more than one million survivors have received Red Cross relief supplies.In addition to distributing tents, food, water, clothes and medicine, local volunteers were also heavily involved in the rescue and treatment of the injured pulled alive from the rubble.

The Red Cross also sent several psychosocial support teams to the affected area to support the emotional and practical needs of survivors.

In response to the Chinese government’s urgent call for international donors to assist with shelter, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies mobilized and shipped 100,000 tents to the area. Many survivors have now been moved into temporary shelters, but significant numbers in rural areas are still living in tents.

In addition, the Red Cross and Red Crescent deployed three Emergency Response Units to provide clean drinking water and mass sanitation for earthquake survivors in some of the most devastated townships. These played a key part in preventing any serious outbreak of diseases, which is always a serious consider following a disaster of this magnitude.

The Canadian Red Cross has delivered 7,250 urgently-needed tents to survivors and supported the Government of Canada’s deployment of 700 additional tents. In addition, Canadian Red Cross aid worker, Yunhong Zhang, was deployed to lead the International Red Cross response, which has included the mobilization of 100,000 tents.

The emergency phase has ended and the operation is moving into early recovery and reconstruction.

Over the next few months the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is planning to support 100,000 people with food, kitchen sets and hygiene kits. In the next three years, the organization will also be providing earthquake-resistant houses for 2,000 rural families whose homes were completely destroyed.

Over the next three years, the Canadian Red Cross will continue to support earthquake survivors through community based health programming and the reconstruction of health centres and over 2,000 homes.

Canadians wishing to help people affected by the earthquake are encouraged to contribute by donating at one of the nine financial institutions, calling 1-800-418-1111 or contacting their local Red Cross office. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked “China Earthquake” and mailed to the Canadian Red Cross National Office, 400 Cooper Street, Suite 8000, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2H8.

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In-kind donations of food, clothing and other items, while well intentioned, are not the best way to help those in need. There are tremendous processing and transportation costs involved in shipping these items to beneficiaries. Local purchases of food and clothing are more culturally appropriate and effective. Red Cross supplies can be purchased in the immediate area, thereby reducing transportation costs. Cash transfers to the affected region provide the optimum flexibility to our Red Cross colleagues so they can meet the most urgent needs.