Tuesday, May 13, 2008

China's Catastrophic Calamity

China's worst earthquake in 30 years is a colossal tragedy. The 7.9 magnitude tremor has such devastating effect on life and property that can stun anyone seeing its indifferently lethal aftermath of mayhem. In a country as hugely dispersed and heavily populated as China, the impact is multiplied 100 times over. Despite its economic power and enormous wealth, it cannot manage to cope with the scale of the disaster alone. China's vast territory and big population fuel its growth, but it can , during disasters, become a horrendous scene of death and destruction.

Disaster teams have been grouped in numbers of 3,000 each, but considering that in Mianyang City alone, 18,645 people are trapped in debris with about 8,000 presumed dead is enough to stagger all members of a team into disbelief - pulling out bodies, rescuing those still alive, ensuring that others trapped are not endangered by the rescue of those accessed initially. There are seven other cities affected within the epicenter with numerous counties and towns around each. All these areas have schools for children 7 to 14 years old, with each school having at least 3,000 students. Pulling out mangled and crushed bodies of young kids dying under the weight of the disaster is overwhelming, despite the size of their population. It is a demoralizing exp
erience that can break one's spirit. Natural disasters do not choose victims. Men, women, children, young, elderly - all are subject to its deathly force.

The previous estimate of 12,000 casualties is conservative. Dujiangyan alone is a city of 600,000 people and it has been practically wiped out. Bodies are being lined up in the streets and schoolyards, and hopes for f
inding other survivors are slim. Some argue that the damage is not the same as the snowstorms that hit China in January and February that stranded 50 million workers. But that event did not see death and destruction as much as this, nor misery of this enormity. The brightest sign is that the Authorities have acted with dispatch and have admitted their inability to handle the rescue and relief operations alone. They have openly accepted relief from all willing donors, but have withheld entry to rescuers allegedly due to the risks involved. The rescue and relief efforts have been described as organized chaos. Under the circumstances, the massive scope of the calamity would render this description as an understatement.

The rescue efforts are being hampered by bad weather that triggers landslides. In the coming days, the smell of rotting corpses still buried under rubble will exacerbate the difficulties of rescuers. It will also threaten to spread disease. China has had its share of calamities, but nothing as yet can compare to this unraveling misfortune.

A calamity of this extent shows how vulnerable the earth's inhabitants are to the forces of nature. Whatever power or capability a country possesses is rendered impotent by its blow. All political differences, regional and group squabbles become inconsequential; and the world must come to terms with helping a beleaguered nation where the immense suffering of its people dwarfs all claims to strength and resilience. Humanity should take precedence over any other concern in such times, to rekindle the truth that we belong to one planet and are all members of the human race.

We are all connected, and anyone who is detached from this sense of humanity deserves to be expelled from the human race.



Zhu said...

It is a true tragedy!

Yet, I'm glad to see China is reacting "well" to this: foreign help arrived in the country and hopefully will be able to reach the people. The whole country mobilized to help Sichuan. I can't help off thinking of the difference with Burma where the junta is basically closing the country...

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Zhu,

China has been very open about the whole thing, and has immediately acknowledged the need for assistance.

I had doubts about their caution in accepting foreign rescuers, but I see the point now. Roads are impassable and dangerous. The rescue sites are so tight and risky, made more dangerous by soil movement because of aftershocks and the rains. Having to worry about foreigners safety would be an added burden.

People as rescuers they have enough of, so with donors for blood. But the scale is mind boggling when the destruction is viewed from the size and number of casualties. It takes several hours to rescue one life among thousands buried beneath. You can imagine the hopelessness that creeps in.

Thanks for dropping by. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

P.S. Zhu,

The Myanmar Junta are a bunch of unfeeling beasts whose brains have been eaten by maggots. There is no possible comparison with the leaders in China. :-) --Durano, done!