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May 15, 2008

Congresswoman Velázquez Calls on USAID to Send Rescue Teams for Victims of Chinese Earthquake

Washington, DC – On Monday, May 12, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck the Sichuan Province of China.  The death toll has quickly climbed to more than 12,000, and with thousands remaining buried in rubble it is only expected to rise further.  Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) today sent a letter to the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) urging the nation’s economic and humanitarian assistance agency to immediately dispatch rescue teams to the area.   

“We cannot waste any time in sending rescue teams to help the Chinese government locate and assist victims of this massive earthquake,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.  “Reports of the devastation are harrowing, and American rescue units can provide unique service to a nation that has been ravaged by a natural disaster.”

With two vibrant Chinatown neighborhoods in her district, Congresswoman Velázquez shares the great concern of the 375,000 Chinese Americans living in New York City.  In the letter to USAID, she asked that the agency demonstrate its full understanding of the gravity of this situation by sending details about the United States’ rescue plans. 

“This week’s earthquake in China has gripped the attention of America and has shaken the souls of our Chinese-American neighbors as they struggle to comprehend the destruction to their native home,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.  “While long term financial reconstruction aid will be crucial, my primary concern lies with victims who need rescue personnel right now.  Lives hang in the balance.”

The United States provided $500,000 to the International Federation of Red Cross for emergency relief following the earthquake.  There is more that can be done, including sending trained personnel to assist in the rescue and recovery process.  With some of the best rescue teams in the world, the United States has a responsibility to do more to assist in the immediate aftermath. 

Click here to read Congresswoman Velázquez’s letter to Henrietta Fore, Administrator of USAID.