Local Chinese mourn quake victims

May 19, 2008 7:38:17 PM PDT
The overwhelming level of death and damage in China is having a profound impact on so many people in the Bay Area. We were at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco where, mourners were given rare access to the building today.

As China came to a standstill mourning for the earthquake victims, Stanford University held a memorial service at noon.

Some of the students who attended have relatives where the quake struck. Dilys Sun says her family is alright, but she feels helpless.

"As an American student, I can't really do much and that's sad, but it's really great to know Stanford University is holding an event like this," says Sun.

In San Francisco, the Chinese consulate opened its doors to the public so that citizens here could also offer their condolences. They came to pay their respects and sign the guest book. Among them, were Chinese American business leaders who've helped raise money for the relief effort.

"We've been raising about $300,000 and we have brought in checks today to hand over to the Chinese consulate and hopefully they can use this money for those who need it the most in china," says Philip Ahoi of the Chinese American Association of Commerce.

As the Chinese struggled with the relief effort, government officials announced they will accept foreign medical teams and supplies for the millions displaced. Chinese Consulate General Zhansheng Gao told ABC7 that there was an urgent international appeal for tents.

"Almost all the homes are damaged and destroyed by the earthquake. They're homeless, so there's a great need for tents to give them shelter," says Gao.

Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapel-Houman says the government appears to be going from a rescue phase to a recovery mode.

"The question for the government is obviously how do you support people now. How do you continue to do that and how do you deal with the displaced, where do you put them?"

Schapel-Houman is an expert in urban search and rescue. He and his team have responded to major disasters here and abroad. So far, they have not been asked to go to China. He says delays in responding to disasters in foreign countries are often caused by politics.

"Whether it's the U.N. or whoever works it out, I mean precious seconds, minutes and hours are lost."


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