While the China Seismological Bureau has now revised the magnitude of the May 12 earthquake up to 8.0, 15 Oxfam staffers are continuing to deliver relief to survivors in two badly damaged Chinese provinces: Sichuan and Gansu.
From the quake's epicenter in Sichuan and out into the rural areas beyond, key needs for people include food, water, medical supplies, and shelter. Oxfam is focusing its work in areas not served by other relief efforts. Providing clean water and sanitation services is a core part of its offerings. Oxfam is also distributing food and shelter materials.
"There is a huge demand for shelters," said Howard Liu, a unit director for Oxfam Hing Kong. "In Maoxian, Oxfam is distributing to survivors plastic sheets which can be used to set up temporary shelters."
But the massive quake and its numerous aftershocks have left much of the region's infrastructure unstable, which in turn is continuing to hamper assistance. Oxfam had planned to deliver relief goods to Qingchuan county but is waiting to see what happens to a reservoir that is now at risk of collapsing. Because of that danger, 9,000 people nearby were evacuated.
An Oxfam assessment team has now reached Xiushui town with a population of 68,000 people. The quake killed 109 of its residents and injured 300 others. The town's buildings were mostly destroyed and huge numbers of people are waiting to be resettled. Food has now reached residents, and Oxfam is giving priority attention to children, women, and elderly people. An assessment team is also gauging the needs of people.
"We are reaching areas not served by other efforts," said John Sayer, the director general for Oxfam Hong Kong. "One such project underway is with a community group in Qingchuan, which has identified that Muslim communities there—about 8,000 people—are in need of Halal food." Halal foods are those permitted to be consumed under Islamic dietary guidelines.