4 August, 2014 - China earthquake: Plan International responding in quake-hit areas

Sven Coppen, Country Director for Plan International in China, is available for grabs and interviews. Please contact Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945 to arrange.

Plan International is deploying a rapid assessment team to assist the government response to the earthquake in Yunnan Province. The 6.5 magnitude earthquake has resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, with substantial damage in Ludian County, according to Plan staff and government sources.

The China Seismic Information Centre has updated the earthquake response level to Level One, the highest priority national response grading.

“The full extent of the damage, casualties, and scale of the emergency are still being assessed. Plan immediately deployed a team to the affected areas and will be making a rapid assessment of humanitarian needs and emergency response,” said Sven Coppens, Plan’s Country Director in China.

The response is complicated by severe damage to roads and infrastructure, landslides and flooding. Heavy rainfall is also forecast in the coming days, and could further complicate the response.

“Plan is preparing to aid affected communities in providing emergency care for children and families affected by the earthquake. We are also on standby to provide psychological counselling and social support to children,” added Coppens.

Government authorities are leading the overall response, and Plan is also prepared to assist with any additional humanitarian or development needs as they arise, Coppens noted.

Plan International, the humanitarian and child rights and development organisation, works in several communities throughout Yunnan Province. Provincial authorities have facilitated Plan’s involvement in the rapid assessment operation. The communities that Plan works in are not in the areas affected by the earthquake and no Plan-sponsored children are reported to have been injured.

With a population of 480,000, Ludian county is a primarily agricultural area. Zhaotong City, the main urban centre in the county, is about 300 kilometres from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, where Plan International has an office.

Aftershocks and landslides are continuing to cause damage in the area and limit rescue workers’ access. In many areas, rescue workers and emergency responders have been forced to access quake-hit areas on foot.Plan’s rapid assessment team is expected to reach Ludian County by this evening, subject to accessibility and damage to infrastructure. The rapid assessment will begin immediately and be coordinated with the government and other NGOs participating in the response.

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945