ShelterBox was quick to respond as alerts came through from various sources on 22 July about two earthquakes hitting China’s western Gansu province, which injured hundreds of people and damaged hundreds of thousands of buildings causing 225,000 people to be relocated.
The first quake measured 5.9 in magnitude, which was followed by hundreds of aftershocks, including a particularly strong one at 5.6 in magnitude creating the second big tremor, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
‘Soon after we received automated alerts highlighting the seismic activity, one of our ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) members who is currently living in China, Rachel Harvey (UK), contacted us with initial information from the region,’ said ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Alice Jefferson. ‘This enabled us to receive accurate and timely data, crucial to our decision of whether to send an assessment SRT.’
Through Rachel’s reports, as well as reading media reports and other humanitarian organisation’s updates, the ShelterBox Operations department was able to monitor the situation rapidly and effectively.
‘Through the information we were getting, it became apparent fairly early on after the disaster that the China Earthquake Administration had started an emergency-response plan,’ continued Alice. ‘Officials from the civil affairs, transportation and earthquake departments were visiting local towns to assess the damage and trained rescue teams with dogs were already on the scene. Hundreds of troops were also reported to have been deployed to assist as well as the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC).
‘The report published by RCSC later that day, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), determined that external assistance was not required. We are therefore continuing to monitor the disaster but are not sending an SRT to carry out needs assessments.’
Work around the clock
The ShelterBox Operations Team work around the clock continuously monitoring disasters enabling the charity to be in a position to respond rapidly and efficiently when disaster strikes.