The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government vowed in Hong Kong on Tuesday to provide an emergency appropriation fund of 300 million HK dollars (US$38.46 million) for the quake victims in southwest China's Sichuan Province, while Hong Kong community actively made voluntary donations to the disaster areas.
HKSAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang told reporters that the departments of health and fire service of the HKSAR government had organized an emergent joint rescue team to await orders for relief efforts in the quake-hit areas.
An emergency meeting will be convened on Wednesday by the Legislative Council to pass the HKSAR government's application for the emergent relief appropriation.
Tsang said a medical volunteer team was also formed by the Hospital Authority and the Medical Auxiliary to stand by for further relief calls.
He also called on every citizen and every institution in Hong Kong to extend their helping hands to organize and participate in the rescue efforts for those victims in the Chinese mainland.
Tsang said he had asked HKSAR government's Beijing office and Chengdu office to help the Hong Kong residents who might be stranded in that area.
Hong Kong Secretary for Security Ambrose S K Lee said at a media session here on Tuesday that the HKSAR government have formed a core group of about 20 staff, consisting of 15 firemen, three ambulancemen, one medical doctor and one nurse, to Sichuan Province. This core team, apart from helping with the rescue work, would assess the local situation, he said.
Hong Kong Home Affairs Department also put in place a mechanism to channel donations from Hong Kong citizens to the victims of the earthquake in the Chinese mainland.
Starting from Wednesday afternoon, 20 Public Enquiries Services Centers of the 18 District Offices and Post Offices (except the mobile post offices) will start to collect donations from citizens during office hours.
All donations will be passed to five relief organizations namely Hong Kong Red Cross, World Vision Hong Kong, Oxfam Hong Kong, United Nations Children's Fund, and The Salvation Army for emergency relief operations related to the Sichuan earthquake.
The Li Ka Shing foundation donated 30 million HK dollars (US$3.85 million) to help the earthquake victims and schools for the reconstruction work. Li Ka Shing, a local grown legend and a world famous tycoon, said the act of God is unexpected, but human beings can decide to help each other.
The Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited ("BOCHK") Tuesday took the lead to donate 3 million HK dollars (about US$385,158) to the Hong Kong Red Cross to give timely assistance to the victims in the afflicted areas. It has also appealed to its 13, 500 staff, including those from its subsidiaries, Nanyang Commercial Bank Limited, Chiyu Banking Corporation Limited, BOC Credit Card (International) Limited, BOC Group Life Assurance Company Limited and Nanyang Commercial Bank (China) Limited, to join the donation activity.
Oxfam Hong Kong allocated on Tuesday 12 million HK dollars (US$1. 55 million) for emergency relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. It is also in contact with local government agencies and community organizations in affected areas to coordinate this emergency response. Oxfam colleagues based in Yunnan Province are traveling to Wenchuan County in Sichuan Province, the epicenter of the quake, for assessment and coordination of the relief work.
World Vision Hong Kong, a humanitarian organization, initially committed 3 million HK dollars (about US$385,158) for the relief of the calamity. Its local staff in Sichuan will distribute 7,000 quilts and 150 tents to the victims. A team of relief workers has rushed to the hard-hit areas to help distribute food and drinking water for immediate relief. Meanwhile, the organization said its staff from the neighboring provinces Shaanxi, Gansu, Yunnan and Guizhou are standing by for any further deployment.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Wenchuan County of southwest China's Sichuan Province at 2:28 PM Monday. It was the worst to strike China since the Tangshan earthquake in northern Hebei Province in 1976, which claimed 242,000 lives.
(Xinhua News Agency May 14, 2008)