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China, Sichuan earthquake: Lessons that save lives

When a huge earthquake struck Sichaun, China on 20 April this year, 12-year-old Xinqun was at home with her 6-month-old baby sister.

Xinqun immediately grabbed her baby sister and ran from the home. Thankfully, both sisters escaped unscathed.

“The roof collapsed, and the walls cracked. But thank goodness that no one was hurt,” says Xinqun.

At least 190 people lost their lives and 11,000 were injured by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake.


Xinqun had learned about what to do in the event of an earthquake at school, where they had earthquake drills to prepare children for possible disasters in this quake-prone areas.

“The first night after the earthquake, we slept in a makeshift shelter and we had hardly any food to eat. Even my mother didn’t seem to have enough breastmilk to feed my baby sister,” says Xinqun.

“Each time there was an aftershock, I was very scared.”

Xinqun and her baby sister live with their mother and grandparents in a remote village. Their father works in Kangding, while their elder sister works in a factory in Lushan.


It took more than a day for the rescue crew to reach Xinqun’s village. But by the evening of the day after the earthquake Xinqun and her family had a tent over their heads, and bottled water, instant noodles and rice from the government rescue team.

When Save the Children arrived the following day, we distributed further essentials, including towels, sanitary napkins, soap, handwash, raincoats, plastic sheets, toilet paper and baby nappies to more than 100 families in Xinqun’s village.

Missing school

Xinqun hopes to return to school soon. Because her school is some distance from their village, she has to stay at school during the week, coming back to her family at weekends.

“We’ve not been able to contact the teachers or the school since the earthquake so I’ve not been back to school yet,” she says. “I really want to go back to school soon.”




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