Quake prompts disaster preparedness discussion

Updated: 2013-04-28 01:08


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BEIJING - Experts are urging the government to create more effective measures to promote public preparedness in the event of a natural disaster in the aftermath of the Lushan earthquake.

"Years of research show that self-rescues have a significant role in saving lives when natural disasters occur. Ninety percent of survivors are saved by themselves or fellow victims," said Wang Shaoyu, a public security planning and risk management expert at the Harbin Institute of Technology.

Quake prompts disaster preparedness discussion

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Lushan county in southwest China's Sichuan province on April 20, leaving at least 196 people dead and tens of thousands injured.

More than 30,000 rescue and relief workers were dispatched to quake-hit areas, rescuing 475 people.

In Baoxing county's Lingguan township, which was cut off from rescuers for 33 hours due to obstructed roads, local residents used shovels and pickaxes to rescue two survivors within three hours. When rescuers did manage to arrive at the township, rescue efforts had already been completed.

Liu Xuancai, a deputy squadron leader from the fire department of the city of Ya'an, said each of the city's six counties and two districs have professional rescue squads to respond to disasters immediately.

"Most residents of Taiping township know that they should not return to their damaged homes to collect their belongings, but should stay out in the open," Liu said.

"The government has improved disaster preparedness and enhanced citizens' ability to rescue themselves since the devastating Wenchuan quake in 2008," said Qu Guosheng, vice president of the International Emergency Management Society.

However, researchers say there are many areas for improvement in terms of disaster preparedness.

"Even with years of practice and experience, the public's awareness of self-protection varies greatly," said Li Chang'an, a professor of earth science at the China University of Geosciences.

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