One year ago today (12 May 2008) a magnitude 8 earthquake occurred in the Chinese Province of Sichuan, leaving over 90,000 people dead or missing.
In the immediate aftermath Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier launched a campaign to raise some 3.6 million euro to rebuild eight schools destroyed in the earthquake. The Steinmeier initiative was supported by the Federal Foreign Office, smaller German companies under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA) and the Arbeitskreis Ausland für kulturelle Aufgaben e.V. (Working Group for Cultural Activities Abroad) as well as big names like BASF, Bosch, Daimler, ThyssenKrupp and TÜV Rheinland. The initiative has proved highly successful. Most of the schools will be reopening for the new school year starting in September 2009. A sum of around 10 million euro has also been donated by German companies and their employees.
The German Government had already made available as emergency aid a mobile hospital run by the German Red Cross, drinking water purification units supplied by the Federal Agency for Technical Relief and tents supplied by the Federal Armed Forces. Other items were donated by the Länder (federal states) as well as German aid agencies and companies. Today the region where the earthquake hit is covered with building sites. More than a third of the 5.5 million people whose homes were destroyed now live in newly built homes, the others live mostly in container villages. In addition to the schools initiative sponsored by the German Government and German companies, a range of other German-Chinese reconstruction projects have been successfully completed in Sichuan.
Germany's humanitarian emergency aid for the earthquake victims totalled over 20 million euro. The Government also allocated 20.1 million euro from its development cooperation budget for long-term impact reduction and disaster prevention measures.