Update: Sichuan Earthquake

22 April 2013

Staff at Animals Asia’s sanctuary in Chengdu China are continuing to monitor the situation following the earthquake at 8am on Saturday 20th April in Sichuan province and starting to formulate areas of possible assistance. 

That quake and subsequent aftershocks have left the local death toll rising with some reports already claiming it has surpassed 200. A figure for those injured, many of them seriously, is now over 10,000 with 30,000 rescuers now assisting. 

Animals Asia’s sanctuary in Chengdu is less than 100 miles from the worst of the damage in Ya’an. On Saturday morning we were able to put out a statement confirming staff and bears at the centre were safe and, with the exception of some slightly damaged fencing, facilities all safe. Thankfully, despite the repeated aftershocks, this has remained the case. 

Since then we have also been able to ascertain that those not resident at the centre were also unhurt. Staff have been able to comfort and settle bears troubled by the shocks. Our disaster response has been put into practice with teams checking all the facilities thoroughly. Of major concern was the Zhi Ping Pu dam, upstream from the adjacent River Pi, which has thankfully remained intact. 

As rescue efforts continue, Animals Asia is looking to see how it can best assist. During the 2008 earthquake staff were able to rescue over 100 dogs, some handed over by those affected until they were able to find new accommodation. On this occasion a vet school, local to the worst affected area, means there are good, experienced people on the ground. However they need dog food, cages, tents, medicines and rabies vaccinations so Animals Asia staff are looking at assisting with funding for local groups so they can start buying supplies for urgent distribution. The authorities have requested traffic is kept to a minimum while roads continue to be affected. Instead Animals Asia will set up signs along the route to Ya’an asking people with space in their vehicles to assist in transporting supplies. 

Additionally the team is also using its social networks to send out advice to pet carers on how best to look after pets in affected areas. Messages are also being put out to zoos to check their enclosures. 

Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson said: 

“Thankfully our staff are all well, our sanctuary has come through its second earthquake and the bears are all fine. The checks that we have put in place have thankfully revealed that we have suffered neither fatalities, injuries nor significant damage to our facilities. Our staff deserve endless credit for the way they have put our own disaster plans into practice and for the way they have coped with the scare of such a disaster with calmness, professionalism and kindness. 

“We must now turn our attention to those affected by the earthquake and assess how best we can help, considering the experience and expertise we have amassed from the past. This is a critical time, damage is widespread and our sympathy and thoughts are with all those so tragically affected and with their family and friends.” 

Links for more information: 

China Daily: Live Report 
The Guardian: Video Footage of the Earthquake 
BBC: In Pictures: Sichuan Quake 
South China Morning Post: Aftershocks from Sichuan Earthquake Pose Threat 
South China Morning Post: Ya’an Earthquake blog: Day 2