Chengdu (AsiaNews) - The situation in Yaan "is not at all good. We have no tents and reserves of clean water and food are severely limited. We have assembled temporary shelters made of plastic and bamboo to spend the night, but it not enough and offer no protection". This is how Fr. Chen Yong, priest from St Mary's parish near Yaan (diocese of Leshan), describes conditions for survivors of the April 20 earthquake that rocked the Chinese province of Sichuan in a telephone interview.
In the area of Yaan,
continues Fr. Chen, "there are about 10 thousand Catholics. Of these, 6
thousand have suffered damage due to the earthquake: their homes have collapsed
or are unsafe, so they have no place to stay. At the moment there are no
victims among the faithful, yesterday we managed to recover from the rubble a seriously
injured Catholic: he is hospitalized at the People's Hospital of Lushan ".
The official number of victims of the earthquake remains for now at 196, with nearly 14 thousand injured. But rescuers have not been able to reach some areas, and they fear that there are more victims still unidentified under the rubble that buried everything.
The worst damage, continues Fr.
Chen, "is to the hearts of the children. Some have reported minor
injuries, but they are all very shaken. In their drawings they only paint dark
clouds in the sky and a strong rain, with a small person holding a small
umbrella in the storm. Even if they are dark, these drawings show that children
are still full of hope. "
Only 3 priests are working in the area of Ya'an, but each county has its own chapel, every priest is responsible for several counties. Fr. Chen follows BaoXing and Hanyuan, and the latter alone has 2 chapels and 3 places for religious activities. In BaoXing there is a chapel, as well as in Lushan.
"All these buildings - the
priest said were damaged by the earthquake, they can no longer be used to
celebrate religious rites. Walls are crumbling and need to be repaired, while
the structure of the BaoXing church was destroyed completely. Even in Lushan
there is severe damage: the church has collapsed, another is almost completely
unusable. Some priests houses and offices have collapsed. "
Fr. Chen emphasizes, however, the great help provided by Chinese Catholics across the web: "The bishops and priests who could have gone to Taiping, Liaoning, home to many Catholics. Once there, they saw that the faithful had organized fundraising groups and materials for them: there was great emotion, even when you lose everything because the slightest help deeply touches you. "
In addition to the normal
problems of reconstruction, including the difficulty in reaching some areas
affected by the earthquake and disposing of the debris, there is also the
problem of distrust of the Chinese population towards "official" rescuers.
The state media also reports that donations sent to the Red Cross Society of China, the government organization that oversees the activities of first aid, have almost halved. Hit by numerous scandals - born from the lack of transparency in the management of accounts - the Red Cross has lost 50% of donations from citizens, who prefer the other 115 small NGOs that are privately managed.