Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang has issued an urgent international appeal for 3.3 million tents and temporary shelters, to aid the 5 ½ million people left homeless in China as a result of the May 12th earthquake, and subsequent aftershocks. More than 15 million homes were destroyed in the Chengdu based disaster, and these figures are rising daily.
The Chinese have stayed fairly well on top of the disaster, and reacted quickly, with 100,000 soldiers deployed to the quake scene within half an hour of the original quake happening. However, the sheer numbers involved have overwhelmed even the Chinese.
On Saturday, before the latest 6.0 aftershock, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao confirmed the death toll at 62,664, with another 23,775 people missing. This has now risen to over 80,000.
However, it is the displaced, the more than five million homeless, that is creating the greatest logistical nightmare for the Chinese government. The urgent international appeal for tents shows China’s inability to cope with the hugeness of the disaster, despite their swift response to the catastrophe.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was grateful for the aid received from overseas, but it needed much more. Top priorities are blankets, clothing, shoes and food.