Disaster relief training taught in China

YUNNAN, China (BP) -- Rescuers pulled a 5-year-old boy alive from the rubble yesterday in southwest China where an Aug. 3 earthquake killed 400 people and ruined 42,000 homes.

Many local volunteers are arriving at the scene to help with rescue efforts, but they are largely untrained. The government in Yunnan asked Baptist Global Response partners to train the new arrivals, said Pat Melancon, BGR's managing director of disaster response.

The BGR team has set up a coordination site and is working with 10 other teams in the area. Yesterday (Aug. 4), the team trained 150 people.

The government asked the BGR team to lead training because they are skilled in the Sphere approach to disaster relief. The Sphere Project (www.sphereproject.org) is an internationally recognized set of principles and minimum standards for conducting life-saving operations in a humanitarian response.

"The efforts in Yunnan are focused on water, food, waterproof plastic sheeting, and daily hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and a few medicines," Melancon said.

Several areas are still inaccessible, and road conditions are complicating effective delivery of supplies. The government has raised the emergency response to the highest level, which means the damage in some areas is more severe than originally thought, Melancon added.

BGR executive director Jeff Palmer said, "Our hearts go out to the many families struggling to survive in the aftermath of this disaster, as well as those who have come to help them.

"God has given us the great privilege of sharing knowledge and skills that will make rescue efforts more effective and no doubt will save lives," Palmer said. "In the process, quake survivors will have an opportunity to experience the life-changing love of God."

Yunnan province is one of China's poorest areas and is prone to earthquakes. The 2008 quake in nearby Sichuan province killed nearly 90,000 people. This earthquake was the strongest to hit the mountainous area in at least 14 years. BGR partners responded to two other earthquakes in the vicinity in September 2012 and April 2014.

More landslides are expected in Yunnan because previous earthquakes have loosened mountainsides and heavy rain has soaked the soil. Most houses in the area are made of mud bricks and do not usually survive earthquakes.


Mark Kelly writes for Baptist Global Response, which will be posting updates on this crisis at www.twitter.com/GoBGR. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).