Monday, May 19, 2008

5.12 Earthquake in Sichuan - The Tragedy Hits Home

Today saw the beginning of three official days of mourning in China, with 3-minutes silence at 14:28 exactly one week after the tragedy.

We first heard of the earthquake moments after it occurred, through relatives and friends who felt the tremors as far away as Shanghai. Although we have been glued to the media since the earthquake struck, I think it really hit home in our family the other day, when I walked into the lounge room to find my wife nursing our baby, and weeping deeply. When I asked what had happened, she told me the story she had just witnessed on one of the Chinese news channels - let me summarize this report:

When the soldiers almost gave up on one of the rubble sites due to aftershock, one of the soliders noticed that there was a dead woman positioned in a strange way amidst the rubble. She was kneeling down with her arms pushing against the ground in front. The soldier took a closer look, and found there was a 3-4 month old baby still alive under the mother's protecting arms. When the boy was taken to the hospital, the nurse found a mobile phone inside the baby's blanket, and on the screen there was an unsent text message that read - "My dear, if you can stay alive, you must remember that I love you."

The global response to the tragedy has been amazing to say the least - but much more assistance is needed, so please dig deep!! I'm proud of what my Motorola has done so far, as well as their own massive contribution in cash, equipment, support and infrastructure, they are matching all of our (the employees) donations dollar for dollar. To date, Motorola has donated over RMB 7 million in cash, products and services. The 2nd phase of donation includes RMB 2 million in cash, of which the amount from China employees alone reached over 1.65 million so far, and RMB 3 million worth of equipment. The emergency response communications equipment and mobile communications infrastructure equipment that Motorola have donated have already arrived in Sichuan, and the mobile phones are also on the way. Our Motorola engineers are on-site in the affected areas working with our customers and partners to provide technical support (following links in Chinese language). Also, all my prayers to my colleague and good friend who lives and works in the area - she and her family are safe, although without the ability to get to her home or her work - she is living in a vehicle kindly provided by the government:


Some background on the Earthquake and Sichuan Province itself:

- A 7.9M earthquake struck Sichuan Province on Monday, May 12, 2008
- Aftershocks have been felt from Beijing, China to Bangkok, Thailand
- This is the most damaging earthquake since the 1976 Tangshan disaster
- Casualties continue to escalate; present official number is more than 50,000
- Public donations rise to 877 million yuan, $125 million US
- Almost five million homeless

Sichuan is a province in western China, with its capital Chengdu. Sichuan has been historically known as the "Province of Abundance, " as it is one of the major agricultural production bases of China, providing the major production of grain, including rice and wheat, since 1999. Commercial crops include citrus fruits, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, peaches and grapeseed. Sichuan also had the largest output of pork and the second largest production of silkworm cocoons, of all the provinces. Sichuan is also one of the major industrial bases of China.

In addition to heavy industries such as coal, energy, iron and steel industry, the province has established a light manufacturing sector comprising building materials, wood processing, food and silk processing. Chengdu, the provincial capital, is one of the most important economic centers and transportation and communication hubs in China, as well as one of the production bases for textiles and electronics products.

Chengdu is not only the gateway of Western People's Republic of China for foreign financial institutions, but also a booming town for Chinese domestic financial firms. The Three Gorges Dam is being built on the Yangtze River in nearby Hubei province to control flooding in the Sichuan Basin.

Some very 'touching' videos (be sure to pause the streaming 'O Singapura' music on this blog to listen to the soundtrack of the videos properly):

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