ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Qinghai Earthquake.

with 3 comments

The Torygraph has more:

“More than 400 people were killed and 10,000 injured when a series of strong earthquakes struck the mountainous Tibetan Plateau in south-west China, collapsing schools, offices and thousands of mud-wall houses.

State television showed aircraft being loaded with the first emergency aid deliveries that will include 5,000 tents, 50,000 cotton coats and 50,000 quilts to protect victims against near-freezing temperatures and strong winds that whip across the plateau.

Rescuers said that it could take some time to reach stricken areas, which are a 12 hour drive from the provincial capital of Xining along poor roads, some of which have been damaged by landslides.

The remoteness of the area, which is home to about 100,000 mostly ethnic Tibetan herders and farmers, meant that modern equipment, including earth movers and medical facilities, were also in desperately short supply.”

Update 1: The Beeb has coverage and a handy map:

Update 2: Time magazine has an informative article:

“On a good day, it takes 12 hours by bus to get to Yushu from the provincial capital, Xining, which is itself about a 1,000-mile drive from the national capital of Beijing. As you climb south and west across the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, urban sprawl cedes to empty steppe. Just north of Tibet, the road opens into a small town tucked in a river valley. Its main street is lined with vendors selling yak butter and tea; its low, brown hills are lined with rows of brightly colored courtyard homes. Those homes — and the town — now lie in ruin.

There is another factor at work here. Yushu sits at what was the edge of the old Chinese empire, and to this day its predominant population is not Han, the ethnic group that rules the new China, but Tibetan. Indeed, the name Yushu, or “Jade Tree,” is not what the locals use, beautiful as it is. Yushu is Mandarin, the language of the bureaucrats of Beijing. The town uses Jyekundo, which is Tibetan — the language of the exiled Dalai Lama, a bête noire of the Chinese government. Dominating a large square in Yushu was a spectacular statue not of some cultural hero from the broad river plains, crowded cities or farmlands further east but of the great Gesar, a legendary king of the pastoral peoples of Tibet and Mongolia. No one knows if it survived the quake.”

Update 3: More from the Beeb:

“Thousands of Tibetan monks using pickaxes, shovels and their bare hands have been helping rescue teams and local people dig survivors from the rubble.

“There are people in here, we have got to find them,” one monk in Jiegu told the AFP news agency.

At a foothill under the main monastery of Jiegu township, monks chanted Tibetan Buddhist mantras in front of piles of dead, Reuters news agency reports.

Some helped residents look for kin among what appeared to be hundreds of bodies, collected on a covered platform, the agency says.

“I’d say we’ve collected a thousand or more bodies here,” said Lopu, a monk in maroon robes. “Some we found ourselves, some were sent to us.”

“Many of the bodies you see here don’t have families or their families haven’t come looking for them, so it’s our job to take good care of them.”

Another monk told the AFP news agency he had come from the Ganzi region of neighbouring Sichuan province to set up a food station.

“Around 28 monasteries have sent people to help. We will be bringing in more and more supplies later today,” he said.
A distraught ethnic Tibetan woman who gave her name as Sonaman said she had “lost everything”.
Wandering the streets with her four-year-old nephew tucked under her coat, Sonaman, 52, said that her mother, father and sister had died.

“My house has been destroyed,” she told AFP. “It’s been flattened. My family lost 10 people. We have nothing. We have nothing to eat.”

Written by modernityblog

14/04/2010 at 14:59

Posted in Uncategorized

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3 Responses

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  1. I remember a tangential discussion I once had in a class on Maoism. The Prof was talking about how the Chinese came up with a great innovation in workers’ housing construction: prefab, precast concrete walls and roofs, for Pete’s sake.. In the early seventies an earthquake hit. The things just collapsed, killing perhaps hundreds of thousands.

    mesquito

    14/04/2010 at 23:32

  2. I wouldn’t want to score points on even the Chinese state when natural catastrophes hit, NO country could take a 6.9 hit and come out of it without damage, not even capitalist ones.

    modernityblog

    15/04/2010 at 00:37

  3. Oh, I’m not scoring points. Well, maybe I am. My point, I suppose, is about unintended consquences, which are the bane of all innovation. I imagine these houses were much more modern and comfortable than what they replaced. But concrete roofs, for Pete’s sake.

    mesquito

    15/04/2010 at 01:29


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