On 14th April 2010, an earthquake measuring around 7 on the Richter scale shattered the lives of people in Qinghai, a western province of China. Not only did it kill more than 2,000 people and injure 11,000, but there was an unusual complicating factor. The disaster happened at 4,000m altitude. People living this high in the mountains are hardy and resilient, but at a time like this, their rugged environment becomes their worst enemy.
Rescue workers were desperate to rush to their aid, but the communities were located at such high altitude that many of the rescuers themselves suffered dizziness and altitude sickness. The remoteness of the epicentre also made it difficult for vehicles to bring the desperately needed food, medicines, blankets, clothing and tents.
The earthquake survivors had been battling injuries and disease since the disaster. Crossroads made contact with a group working right in the centre of the affected area, and we were thankfully able to send a consignment of painkillers and many gallons of antiseptic liquid, carried in by our contacts in the field.
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Population: 1.35 billion
Population below international poverty line of US$1.25 per day: 11%, or 157 million people
China is experiencing rapid economic growth, but the benefits have not reached millions of people in rural areas. People who are already poor are the most vulnerable to death, injury and loss of livelihood when floods and earthquakes hit.
Natural disasters in China affect more than 200 million people every year.
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