UpdateOverseas Chinese donate to quake victims

15 May 2008 13:55  [Source: ICIS news]

Overseas donations increase for quake victims(Releads and updates throughout)

By Cheang Chee Yew

LONDON  (ICIS news)--Overseas Chinese and Chinese companies have stepped up donations for the survivors of the earthquake in southwest China, according to news reports on Thursday.

Chinese and Chinese companies operating in Namibia have donated over $50,000 for the disaster regions, according to the official Chinese state news agency Xinhua. In Greece, overseas Chinese handed to the Chinese embassy more than €6,000 in disaster donations.

Chinese in Spain and Hungary collected about $278,000 and $150,000 dollars respectively for the disaster regions. Chinese artists and actors had planned a charity performance in Los Angeles, California.

More than 50,000 people may have been killed in Monday’s devastating earthquake in Sichuan, southwest China, media reports said.

The official death toll was around 19,500 but this could rise sharply, according to official state news agency Xinhua.

In addition to those confirmed dead, 25,788 people remain buried and a further 14,051 were still missing, it said.

A massive search and rescue operation was still underway, with more than 60,000 now rescued in Sichuan, reports said.

Damaged transport links have hampered relief efforts but Chengdu’s international airport has resumed full operations following repairs to air traffic control facilities. This was expected to aid relief efforts, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.

The government has agreed to help from Japan which will be sending professional relief workers to the region, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, 37,700 tents and 50,000 cotton quilts have been transported to quake-hit areas and a chartered cargo flight carrying about 110 tonnes of relief goods was due to arrive at Chengdu Shuangliu Airport, Xinhua said.

The financial cost of the 7.9-magnitude quake was estimated at over $20bn, according to consulting firm Air Worldwide.

There were also fears of a spike in food prices as existing rice supply problems may now become worse, local official sources said.

Houses, schools, hospitals and factories were razed to the ground in the worst affected areas. The earthquake also damaged 391 dams, which were currently being inspected.

Three major dams in Sichuan have now been certified as structurally safe, said the Ministry of Water Resources and the regional government. The Three Gorges Dam was unaffected by the quake.

The province's chemicals industry has been hit hard by the disaster, which has led to major production and logistics problems. It was also affecting the markets.

Two fertilizer plants collapsed on Monday and numerous shutdowns have been reported.  

PetroChina said its operations had been disrupted and it may now scrap plans to build a new 800,000 tonne/year ethylene cracker in Chengdu.

Its subsidiary Nanchong refinery has restarted its crude distillation unit (CDU) and some other units producing solvent oil, baseoils and paraffin would resume soon, a company source said.

On Thursday, three dimethyl ether (DME) producers said they had resumed normal production but were still being affected by logistics problems.

Chlor-alkali producer Yibin Tianyuan said it was running one if its two 320,000 tonne/year polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and caustic soda plants in Sichuan, but at a reduced rate.

Melamine buyers said they were braced for a huge spike in third quarter prices due to reduced urea supply.

A rally in methanol prices was also being exacerbated by the quake because of supply problems, buyers and sellers said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, trucks carrying 200 tonnes of toluene di-isocyanates (TDI) have been stranded since Monday on a major road in the northeast of Sichuan, a local logistics company source said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.55% to close at 3,637.32 points on Thursday. The exchange has lifted the suspension in share trading of 32 of 45 companies affected by the earthquake. 

($1 = CNY7.00)

Have you personally or your business been impacted by the earthquake in China? If you have any information or thoughts you would like to share, post your comments or photos on the ICIS China Earthquake forum. You can also send photos and video directly to us at icisnews.asia@icis.com or icisnews.europe@icis.com  

With additional reporting by Gabriela Wheeler, Ng Hun Wei, Chow Bee Lin, Prema Viswanathan, Helen Lee, Peh Soo Hwee, Anu Agarwal, Hong Chou Hui and Bohan Loh

By: Cheang Chee Yew
+65 6780 4359

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