Soon after arriving in Sichuan Province, Mark Eller of Samaritan's Purse visited a town near Chengdu, just east of the epicenter of the massive earthquake that shook China on May 12.
Thousands had been killed, including children who had been buried when a middle school collapsed. As rescuers searched for trapped coal mine workers nearby, some feared that an aftershock would bring down the remaining cracked buildings.
The massive recovery effort facing China is so arduous that the project director for the Boone, North Carolinabased agency has no idea how long his team of 15 workers will remain.
Nine days after the disaster, Samaritan's Purse airlifted in tons of supplies, including thousands of blankets, hygiene kits, temporary shelter materials, and systems that filter 60,000 gallons of water a day.
"There are cities, villages, and towns that are totally destroyed," Eller said. "Approximately four million to five million people are homeless and will need relief, transitional housing, food, and other things for a long time."
Coupled with the cyclone that struck Myanmar eight days earlier, these tragedies have prompted a relief effort rivaling the one that followed the Southeast Asia tsunami in 2004.
Christian mission organizations and relief agencies are meeting needs in both nations, although resistance from Myanmar's military rulers is making it much tougher to extend help there.
Even World Vision, one of the few agencies with workers stationed in Myanmar prior to Cyclone Nargis, has experienced difficulties. "Every time we are able to do distribution it's a renegotiation effort with the military," said Jeff Wright, an emergency affairs official. "Myanmar remains an incredibly difficult place to work."
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