In the midst of major devastations like yesterday's 7.9 earthquake in China's Sichuan Province, it's difficult not to feel a bit overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation.
So far, more than 12,000 people have died, and the death toll keeps rising. In Mianyang City, which was hit especially hard, over 26,000 have been injured, and 18,465 people remain buried by the debris. Of these, only 58 have been extricated from the buildings, so hopes of uncovering thousands of survivors looks pretty grim.
On a more positive note, rescue workers who have been uncovering some of the 900 students trapped under a middle school report that they have been able to reunite many of the students with their families.
Other cities and areas have suffered similar losses. In Yingxiu, a town near the epicenter, all of the bridges and about 70% of the roads were destroyed, making it difficult to bring food and supplies to the earthquake victims. Only 2,000 of the town's 12,000 residents were reported to still be alive.
I don't have nearly enough room to write all of the tragic details of school collapses, or families who have been torn apart as a result of the earthquake. More graphic and sobering details are bound to unfold, each seemingly more devastating than the last.
More than 50,000 troops have been deployed, joining thousands of other rescue workers. Right now, food and medicine seem to be the two greatest needs, and they will become even more valuable as the reconstruction efforts continue.
In addition to the work of the Chinese government and relief agencies, many international organizations and foreign governments have also offered help. The Chinese government has given about $28.6 million USD for disaster relief, and foreign governments worldwide have rallied behind China's disaster-relief efforts.
Japan has pledged $4.8 million in cash and supplies, and will give more if necessary. President George W. Bush has offered his condolences, and the U.S. has pledged $500,000, and Russia is sending a rescue plane. Even the International Olympic Committee has pledged $1 million USD to China's earthquake relief.
In a sad and sobering way, this earthquake has done more than any Olympic effort to unite China with much of the rest of the world, but this solidarity has definitely come at a high price.