Sommaire: 16 May 2008, Brussels - The Community Civil Protection Mechanism will be sending a team of experts to China on 17 May to help coordinate expert and material assistance from Member States. The Chinese authorities made an official request for assistance following the massive earthquake that struck south-western China on 12 May, and help is being offered by Austria, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Malta.
Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner responsible for Environment and Civil Protection, said: "In the immediate aftermath of this devastating earthquake in China, the Community Civil Protection Mechanism was ready to act. No country should have to face such suffering on its own, and we are doing all that we can to help people deal with the consequences of the emergency."
On 17 May the MIC will send an expert team to China help coordinate the incoming assistance, accompanied by a MIC liaison officer. Austria, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Malta have offered shelters, emergency health kits and expert assistance through the Mechanism.
The European Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) was immediately informed about the earthquake in China through the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS). The MIC has been monitoring the situation and liaising with the Commission Delegation in China, which offered EU assistance to Chinese authorities. One day into the emergency, China indicated to the Commission that it would welcome shelters, mobile field hospitals, medical equipment and medicines, road-clearing machinery, ambulances, fire-fighting vehicles and seismic experts.
The scale of the disaster
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck south-western China on 12 May 2008 approximately 80 km from Shengdu City. The earthquake did considerable damage in eight provinces and municipalities. According to the latest estimates the death toll is at least 50 000 persons.
The Community Civil Protection Mechanism
The Mechanism is intended to improve cooperation on civil protection assistance operations. It coordinates assistance, provides prompt support and assists any country inside or outside the European Union that needs help. The main objective is to provide the best possible response and preparedness when a major emergency occurs. These activities are coordinated by the Commission through its Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), located in DG Environment's Civil Protection Unit.
Thirty states participate in the Community Mechanism, and the resulting pool of resources can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. Since the Mechanism became operational in 2002, it has been activated for a number of disasters around the world. These have included the 2004 tsunami in South East Asia, the 2005 forest fires in Portugal, flooding in Bulgaria and Romania, Hurricane Katrina in the US, the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005 and the Lebanon crisis in 2006. In 2007 the Mechanism was activated for floods in Bolivia, as well as for forest fires in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Albania and the former Republic of Macedonia. More recently the Mechanism was activated for oil spills in Ukraine and South Korea, an earthquake in Kyrgyzstan and floods in Bolivia and Ecuador.
For more information see:
European Civil Protection