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Relief assessment begins in China

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptist relief workers are in touch with partners in central China to assess needs created by the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck the region May 12.

At least 12,000 people were killed and more than 26,000 injured in small cities and towns nestled in hill country north of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. More than 18,000 people are believed trapped in piles of concrete, steel and dirt in the city of Mianyang alone, according to news reports.

“We have been in contact with partners in the country and have offered help,” said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response. “Assessments are being made as to what the response should be.”

A meeting of Christian organizations in the United States is expected to be held May 14 “to better coordinate our overall effort to respond,” Palmer added. The Chinese government has said it will accept international relief supplies but has so far declined offers of aid workers because of damage to lines of transportation, news services report.

Yingxiu, A town located near the quake’s epicenter, suffered “unusually severe” damage, with more than 70 percent of its roads damaged and all bridges destroyed, a top military commander told the AFP news service.

China mobilized its military to lead the search and rescue effort, but heavy rain and severe damage to roads were making it difficult to respond to the crisis. A team of 1,300 soldiers and army medics had to hike overland to reach the quake’s epicenter in Wenchuan county, Xinhua news agency reported. The bad weather also interfered with plans to air-drop food and medical supplies into the area.

Lori Funderburk, prayer coordinator for Baptist Global Response, asked concerned Christians to focus on six prayer points:

— Pray that those who are buried in the rubble and debris will be found.

— Ask God to comfort those who are wounded or dying.

— Pray that medical aid will come quickly.

— Pray that the international community will find ways to respond quickly and effectively.

— Pray that God will raise up Christian relief workers to help meet needs.

— Ask the Lord to provide shelter for those who lost their homes in the earthquake.
Compiled by Mark Kelly, an assistant editor at Baptist Press.

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