A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck southwest China’s Yunnan province on Sunday, displacing more than 200,000 people. The death toll has continued to rise to nearly 600 people, with over 2,000 injured.
Mercy Corps has a base of operations in neighboring Sichuan Province and our team headed to the epicenter within hours to assess emergency needs with our longtime local partner, China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation.
The hardest-hit communities already struggle with high rates of poverty and are in a rural, mountainous area where electricity and communication are now cut off. Most roads are damaged or blocked, and heavy rains and landslides are hampering rescue and response efforts.
Our team reports that survivors are receiving food, water and some basic shelter, but critical hygiene and sanitation supplies are desperately needed. We’ve already joined CFPA in bringing tents in villages that have not yet received government support and will quickly distribute hygiene kits more broadly.
We will be coordinating closely with local government and community organizations based in Yunnan Province to ensure that we reach families most in need, as quickly as possible. As in our previous experiences responding to the 2013 Ya’an earthquake and 2008 Sichuan province quake, we continue assessing how we can help communities begin to rebuild.
We know that children are especially vulnerable to the traumatic effects of the disaster and will require special attention and care in the coming weeks and months. Mercy Corps is exploring opportunities to help children recover and heal.