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Following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck China’s southwestern province of Sichuan on Monday, 2.28pm local time, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will today dispatch its first medical teams to one of the worst hit areas. According to state media, China’s most devastating earthquake in 30 years left nearly 10,000 dead and scores more are feared dead or injured.

Two days after a powerful earthquake hit Sichuan Province in southwestern China, the confirmed death toll nears 15,000 and thousands of people remain trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, according to provincial authorities.

MSF teams working in China’s quake-hit areas

A week after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake killed a reported 32,000 and left up to 4.8 million people homeless in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has now provided over 210 tonnes of relief supplies as well as medical assistance to the survivors. Reinforced by an enormous outpouring of material and financial support by private citizens and local communities throughout China, as well as offers of additional aid from abroad, the Chinese government’s response to the disaster has so far been swift and massive.

The Chinese government is now estimating that over 5 million have been left homeless by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of the country’s Sichuan province 12 days ago. A total of 34 MSF team members are now in the affected region and have been carrying out assessments, providing surgical and basic medical care, as well as mental health services, and donating tents and medicines to the relief effort. The local, regional, and national response has been enormous, but some of the needs, especially in the area of shelter, remain.

Interview with Tony Marchant, outgoing emergency coordinator in Chengdu, Sichuan Province  What are the main needs of the people in Sichuan today? Following extensive assessments in the affected region, MSF teams have found that the response in terms of food, water, sanitation and hygiene is largely adequate in most places. Over 5 million have been left homeless by the quake, so the need for shelter is tremendous.

MSF program manager Filipe Ribero has conducted several evaluations at sites where displaced persons are living in Tbilisi and Gori.  In the field, there is a sharp contrast between a massive influx of international aid and limited opportunities — for now — to provide assistance. What is the current situation in Georgia?

Fighting has calmed in and around the breakaway region of South Ossetia, and the warring parties have reached a ceasefire agreement. The short, violent conflict has displaced a lot of people in Georgia, South Ossetia and the Northern Caucasus region of Russia. As of 20 August, MSF is still unable to access South Ossetia, the area where the conflict had broken out, in order to conduct an independent needs assessment and provide medical and humanitarian aid to the population if necessary.

An MSF emergency team based in Tbilisi has been able to gain access to the separatist province of South Ossetia and visit Tskhinvali Hospital. MSF, which already provides support to displaced people in Tbilisi, has offered to provide medical assistance in South Ossetia. On August 23 an MSF team was able to gain access to Tskhinvali in Southern Ossetia, visiting the republican hospital in this city where intense fighting broke out on August 7. The situation has been slowly returning to normal in the aftermath of the peace accord signed by Russia and Georgia.

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