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Earthquake in China

May 12, 2008

Hello again,

The recent natural disasters in Burma and China are devastating for all those affected. It may be that teachers are among the victims. What should family and friends do if they are fearful for the safety of a teacher working in the disaster zones?

The first point is...

... that not having heard from somebody does not necessarily mean they have been killed or injured. Communication systems may be destroyed and so they may not be able to get messages out.

Of course you should use very possible means available to you try to contact them in person: their mobile phone, email, their school’s phone and email, or perhaps try friends and colleagues who may know what has happened.

If you cannot make direct contact then get in touch with that country’s embassy or consulate and ask advice on how to trace the missing person. Unfortunately, in major disasters affecting large numbers of people, the process of tracing individuals can be very slow. It is worth remembering, therefore, that when teachers set off for distant lands, they should give some thought to what they could do in the event of being caught up in a disaster. As soon as they arrive in the country, they should register their personal details with their own embassy or consulate and if, in the disaster, they are able to, they should contact their embassy or consulate so that information about can be sent home as soon as is feasible. The British Foreign Office has an online service called Locate for people to register their travel plans and personal details: at https://www.locate.fco.gov.uk/locateportal/ They state the benefits of registering with LOCATE:
• "if a major catastrophe occurs we’ll have an instant record of your details so we can contact you to make sure you’re OK and provide advice
• if family and friends need to get in touch with you we can help them to find you

We’re confident Locate will improve our ability to provide help in crisis situations and reduce delay and worry in times of stress for family and friends at home."

Certain charities with international reach, such the Red Cross or the Salvation Army may also be able to help trace missing people. So if other channels are unsuccessful you could try them.

Before travelling overseas family members could take steps before departure to make any search easier:
• leave a photocopy of their travel documents including their passport, visas, airline tickets, and destination details.
• set up an email address they can use easily overseas
• agree on how regularly you can expect to hear from them and what they will do in the event of an emergency.

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  1. David Goss Says:

    On Wednesday May 7th of last week, I went for an interview at a school in Chendu. This was was to be the center of the earthquake. I was going to take the teaching job there. I stayed over in Chendu and returned to Zhuhai on Thursday, which is far South and near Hong Kong. I had also interviewed at the Zhuhai Medical College and was accepted by this College but upon my return from Chendu, I was then informed that the Chinese Government for reasons known only to themselves were not granting Work Visa’s to new foreign workers, (something to do with security and the Olympics)… teachers of English as a second language included.

    As you might imagine, the whole country is now in shock. The TV reports such devastation and rubble and the regions are so inaccessible and everyone was totally unprepared. Instead of everyone rushing to fix blame, everyone is supporting the rescue effort. The Japanese have done a stellar job finding pockets of students buried through Hi Tech equipment which has made the difference between life and death.

    Some reported that while asleep taking the afternoon rest, they awoke thinking they had died, as they were it total darkness. Others thought the room spinning was only themselves being dizzy. Adoption agency's are in full swing and many children are now without parents. A story of a grandmother and grandfather farmers working in the field when the earthquake happened. A huge bolder was thrown off the mountain and landed on the grandfather. The grandmother was hit by a rock in the face and ran to safety. Today 200 people have been rescued. The speed to the rescue site with what was needed in such emergencies was lacking but it is a new law that all will go to earthquake class, so people will know what to do.

    The mood of the Country is beyond sadness, the rescue effort will continue right up to the start of the Olympics. The question is, how to recapture the spirit of the Olympic flame, when the spirit of so many have had their flame snuffed out in ten minuets?

    This was then, now many people are so afraid of something else .. the flood. People are displaying a post tragic shock as these people are not use to knowing every detail of an event like this as we in the West get every inch of it.

    If I can be of help, please let me know... David

  1. Brenda Townsend Hall Says:

    A very moving report, David. Hard to imagine such suffering.One feels so helpless. I suppose all we can do from afar is contribute to the emergency aid funds.

  1. anthony spence Says:

    it is truely the saddess thing I have come up against 70000 and counting, but the way in which the chinese people hasve dealt with the tragic is truely inspiring. I live and work in Suzhou a fair distance from the earthquake but the rumble has been felt across chia, my heart gos out to them anthony

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