Devastating mudslides hit Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in northwest China's Gansu Province, on August 8. As of August 12, the massive rain-triggered mudslides killed more than 1,144, with 600 still missing, and displaced tens of thousands.
Rugged terrain, disrupted transportation and communication, summer heat and a lack of drinkable water are making the rescue mission extremely difficult. Mudslides are often more deadly than earthquakes, leaving people trapped inside buildings with very little space, air or chance of survival. Moreover, modern facilities and equipment are hardly able to help in the rescue efforts. The operation became even more challenging as rains and storms descended upon the region.
Troops, armed police, firefighters and accident rescue specialists, together with the local people, have been busy with the relief efforts in Zhouqu. Despite the difficulty in organizing relief operations, they have pulled more than 1,000 people alive from the rubble and mud. The injured were immediately transferred to cities with better medical conditions. Meanwhile, relief materials are being transported to the disaster zone from around the country. Epidemic prevention teams have been dispatched to widen the scope of monitoring. A psychological assistance program has also been instituted in the disaster-hit region, after an investigation among local people found there was a need for it. To ensure the efficiency of rescue operations, non-essential personnel, equipment, facilities and resources are not being allowed to enter the disaster-hit region. Transit stations set up by the rescue headquarters arrange the priority of material and facility transportation. The nation's strong disaster-relief capability, coordination and mobilization are once again reflected in this mission.
As relief materials and donations from all walks of life pour in, a reconstruction plan for Zhouqu is already on the government agenda. All of the houses toppled are to be reconstructed no later than June 2011; and by this November, all damaged houses will be repaired. The government will flesh out the resettlement program after learning further details of the disaster, according to a recent meeting of the Central Government.
China has been plagued with natural disasters in recent years, and the nation and its people have accumulated valuable experience in disaster relief. More importantly, the Chinese have developed a strong and fearless determination to fight against disaster. Just as Premier Wen Jiabao often says, "We believe as long as there is a glimmer of hope, we will make our utmost efforts."
"Never drop, never abandon" is the catchphrase attached to the recent, and possibly the most difficult, rescue operations.