|Press Release by Spokesperson of Chinese Consulate General in Sydney on Yushu Earthquake, Qinghai Province|
Q: Did the government hide the real death toll of the Yushu earthquake?
A: The information release after the Yushu earthquake are timely, open and transparent. The government of Qinghai province launched “Contigency Plan of Foreign Affairs Office of Qinghai Provincial Government for Devastating Earthquake”, which allows oversea journalists, including foreign resident journalists in China, temporarily visiting foreign journalists, resident journalists from Hong Kong and Macau, temporary visiting journalists from Hong Kong and Macau and Taiwan that hold valid certificates to report the earthquake rescue and relief work. The person in charge from Qinghai Provincial Government also clearly expressed that they “will do their best to receive and cooperate with media from other provinces and overseas, and will provide their service to the best of their ability and release authoritative information timely.”
After the earthquke over 70 foreign journalists from BBC, Reuters, Daily Telegraph(Britain), Fuji TV(Japan), ect. have arrived at the affected region for news report. The earthqake-striken area set up Front Press Center to provide facilitation to all journalists, foreign journalists in particular. The death and injury figures relieased by the Chinese Government are real and reliable. There is no need for us to hide the death number.
Q: Could you tell us about Tibetan Autonomous Region’s participation in the rescue and relief work?
A: 90% of the residents of the earthquake-striken area are our Tibetan compatriots. The situation of the earthquake is of great emotional concern to the people of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The TAR sent rescue team immediately after the earthquake. The Fire Department of TAR, which is the only professional earthquake rescue team of TAR, promptly deployed cross-regional rescue and relief campaign. Changdu Firebrigade and staff of Changdu Earthquake Bureau organized the first professional rescue team that arrived at the earthquake-striken region. TAR altogether have sent 400 rescue staff and 70 vehicles to the affect area.
Time means life. The health departments of TAR have sent 102 medical staff in 2 groups to the affected area to provide medical treatment. By April 20, TAR medical team have treated 3,500 injured people. The local hospital of Changdu also received and treated 18 injured residents from the affected area.
China Mobile Tibet Co. Ltd also launched its contigency plan, and sent two rescue teams to the affected area. The advance group was made up by the staff of Changdu office of China Mobile. They carried medicine, fuel and food. At the same time, a first-aid repair and maintenance team was sent from China Mobile Tibet Co. Ltd in Lhasa went to Yushu non-stop by road. They carried 2 emergency telecommunication vehicles, 20 diesal power generators, 10 maritime satillite telephones, as well as medicine, food, tents.
During the past days, religious community and temples across TAR have held all kinds of services in accordance with local religous traditions for the victims of the earthquake. They prayed for the compatriots in the earthquake affect area.
Besides, people from all walks of life in TAR have altogether donated 8.18 million yuan and 320 tons rescue materials valued 5.2 million yuan for the earthquake affected area.
Q: Could you tell us about the death and injury with students and teachers during the earthquake as well as the damage to the school buildings?
A: This earquake was the most devastating with the highest magnitude in the recorded history of Yushu. As Jiegu Town, the capital of Yushu Prefecture, was very close to the epicenter, its loss was especially severe. All together, 63 school was damaged by the earthquake, which involves 22,019 students, and 1,148 teachers and staff, and 139,175 square meters of school building(buidling area). In Jiegu Town alone, 17,879 students, 809 teachers and staff and 98,146 square meters school building were affected. According to preliminary statistics, 36,572 square meters of school buildings collapsed as a result of the earthquake, which accounted for 37.26% of the total school building area. 61,574 square meters of school buildings were beyond repair but did not collapse, which takes up to 62.74%.
The earthquake with 7.1 magnitude has caused great loss of life. Yet the death and injury ratio of students and teachers is relatively low. By 18:00pm 21 April, 207 students died from earthquake, among whom 134 died outside their schools, which accounted for 64.7%; 73 died in their schools, which accounted for 35.3%. Among the 25 teachers that died, 15 or 60% of them died outside the school or in their dormitory, 10 or 40% of them died in school.
The major reason for this low death ratio of students and teachers is that in recent years, the country have implemented projects to enforce compulsory education project, rebuild dangerous building, and build boarding schools. The quality of the school buildings are therefore guaranteed. According to rough statistics, from 2001 to 2009 6 counties under Yushu prefecture invested 426 million yuan special funds for the above-mentioned projects, and built 249 schools and increased 281,800 square meters school building. Yushu county alone invested 40.52 million yuan, built 41 schools, rebuilt and increased 35,700 square meters school buildings. Apart from these, the Yushu Prefecture also raised 113 million funds on its own and built 24 schools with 65,800 square meters building area. Although the school buildings were severly damaged in the earthquake, but most of its did not collapse, which give students time to evacuate.
Secondly, after the Wenchuan earquake, schools of all levels in Qinghai Province were required by the Ministry of Education and the Provincial Government and its Education Department to strengthen safty training and practiced anti-quake and escape exercises for many times, which improved their ability of self-protection. The schools aslo enacted their own contigency plans against all types of disasters, so that after the earthquake, the teachers and students were able to organize effective evacuation.
Thirdly, all the teachers and students displayed the great spirit of fellowship and orginized self-resuce and rescue on their own, which also reduced deaths and injuries to a large extent.