More than 1,100 volunteers helping

By Hu Yongqi and Cui Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-13 07:14
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More than 1,100 volunteers helping
Young volunteers help carry relief materials in Zhouqu county on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010. [FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY]

ZHOUQU, Gansu - Volunteer Lu Xidai was busy all day Thursday distributing donated baby milk powder to young mothers whose homes were destroyed in the deadly landslide in Zhouqu.

Lu, who is a former solider, said doing something to help the survivors of his hometown is the only way to comfort his soul after his father and sister were killed in the disaster five days ago.

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"I just want to help no matter how little I can do," said the 23-year-old who tried to hold back his tears.

"It (volunteer work) will distract me from the trauma," he said.

Lu was among the more than 1,100 people, aged from 12 to 48, who have become volunteers in Zhouqu after the deadly landslide early Sunday morning. The number of volunteers is still rising, according to local authorities.

"We only had about 300 volunteers on Sunday. As the relief work started, more and more people have joined in to lend their helping hands," He Xuezhoug, who is in charge of recruiting and organizing volunteers in Zhouqu, told China Daily on Thursday.

The vast majority of the volunteers are either locals or from neighboring counties with various backgrounds, he said.

But volunteers from other parts of China have begun to gather in Zhouqu to offer aid, although authorities have urged people not to travel to the disaster-hit county by themselves. The volunteer efforts need to be coordinated, which is easier done through pre-arranged volunteer teams.

The volunteers' major task at the moment is to transport relief goods including water and medicine from the distribution center in Dachuan, which is three km away from the temporary settlement for the homeless survivors in Zhouqu, He said.

Volunteers had to manually carry relief goods from Dachuan to the temporary settlement because the landslide had cut the road linking the two places into two halves and no vehicle could get through, he said.

"Though the work carried out by volunteers is limited, it is an essential supplement," he said.