Poor supply, overcrowding pose post-quake risks

16 May 2008 11:51  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--The overcrowding of shelters and poor living conditions of the displaced survivors pose the greatest health threat in the wake of the Sichuan earthquake in southwest China, a regional adviser at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.

The lack of sanitation facilities, as well as poor food and water supplies, can also contribute to the worsening of the situation and spread of diseases, said Pesigan,West Pacific WHO regional adviser for emergency and humanitarian activities.

Pesigan played down fears of exposure to corpses, he said, despite Communist Party official Bai Licheng having said that the country is in an urgent need for body bags to store and bury the dead to avoid water and air contamination.

The WHO advises officials to allow the entire identification and grieving process to take place.

Although the Chinese government has welcomed international aid and support, the WHO has yet to receive any formal request for help from the relevant authorities.

“WHO is ready to deploy troops to the epicentre and we have men on stand-by in our WHO Beijing unit as well as from the regional headquarters in Manila, Philippines,” he said.

China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has instructed local authorities to investigate the causes for the collapse of school buildings in the Sichuan earthquake, local media reported.

The quake destroyed 216,000 structures in the province, including 6,898 school buildings, as of Wednesday, Han said.

“If quality problems do exist in the school buildings, we will deal with the persons responsible strictly with no toleration and give the public a satisfying answer,” said Han Jin of the Ministry of Education, as quoted by China state media Xinhua.

Building safety regulations would be revised as the force of the quake had exceeded the expected degree on which the government established quake-resistance standards for buildings in those areas, Xinhua said, quoting Housing Ministry officials.

Cheang Chee Yew contributed to this story
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

By: Serene Cheong
+65 6780 4359

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