Nearly 40,000 dead in the Sichuan region of China and another 22,000 in Myanmar as per the latest news today, I would say it has been a pretty depressing week.
Survivors are few and far between and the tally on missing persons is easily in the tens of thousands. Rescue efforts have been further hampered by the damage inflicted on local infrastructure, although the Chinese army has been brilliantly resilient and effective, as they have proven time and time again. You have to give this government credit, when they put their mind to something they plow forward with dogged determination!
The death toll is unfortunate but right now the world needs to focus on how these governments handle the refugee camps that are popping up. China has more than 5 million people that have been left homeless, a good portion of which is living in sub standard conditions (hygienically). Spring rains have not made it any easier. Since food and shelter distribution has proven effective, how the Chinese Government will relocate and reestablish the lives of these survivors will be one for the books. The numbers we are talking about are easily equivalent to the population of many countries.
In an unfortunate events comparison, I would say that the displaced population that the Chinese have to worry about weighs equally with the inward and nonsupporting ruling junta of Myanmar. Here you have the case of a country that does not have the support network or infrastructure to distribute aid, with a Junta continually (tough significantly better) impeding efforts made by outside parties. In this I find the greater catastrophe. Myanmar could learn a thing or two from the Chinese.
It is during times like this that one really gets a chance to pause and reflect about the situation of the world in general. Have we become so petty and self absorbed that we are unable to focus on what is more important, our responsibility as human beings to one another? Perhaps as the past has shown, there will be some good that stems from this Myanmar situation—an excuse for social change. Myanmar has been treading quite poorly on the world stage these last few years and its people are getting tired of this ruling junta. It will not be too long now.
For all my disagreements with the Chinese and their actions, I have been awed and house a sense of real pride (for my adopted home) in the way that they have handled the fallout from the earthquake. Amidst brewing trouble with Tibet, the approaching Olympics, Taiwan, INFLATION, they have orchestrated their relief efforts with a fervor and commitment greater than I have seen in many years. Truly something the Chinese people can be proud of.
It seems that in all of the different buildings that collapsed in the Sichuan region, school buildings seemed to be one of the larger percentages, 6900 of them to be a little more precise. It’s a good think little kids can run faster than adults, it seems that during earthquakes this may prove to be a crucial self-preservation tool.
And two pandas are still missing.