Main Navigation

China earthquake 2008

On 12 May 2008 a massive earthquake devastated Sichuan province in southwest China, leaving five million people homeless and taking some 87,000 lives.

Australian donors contributed more than $9 million to our China Sichuan Earthquake Appeal 2008.

Providing emergency relief and aiding long-term recovery

Using these generous donations, Australian Red Cross was part of an international humanitarian relief effort, offering support through the Red Cross Society of China. In the months following the quake, our funds helped distribute more than 100,000 tents, provided safe drinking water for more than 19,000 people and sanitation facilities to more than 13,000.

One year down the track, and as efforts focus on long-term recovery, Chinese Red Cross has built nearly 70,000 houses, 450 schools and 1,500 medial clinics. Additional programs will help people set up new ways of generating income, healing the emotional impact of the disaster and providing households with clean water.

Earthquake survivor He Xiande has a new home in a new, location. 'We feel much safer,' he says. 'We don't feel as though the house is shaking every time there's an aftershock'.

Preparing for future disasters

China is one of the most disaster-prone countries on earth with millions of people affected every year. Red Cross, with its network of more than 20 million volunteers, is in a unique position to provide assistance when disaster strikes.

And while we are there to help in times of crisis, we know that preparation beforehand can significantly reduce both the human and economic tolls of natural disasters. Presently Australian Red Cross supports a community based disaster preparedness program in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China. Working in partnership with the Red Cross Society of China, we help communities identify and undertake projects that will reduce the impact of natural disasters.

China Sichuan Earthquake Appeal 2008

This appeal has now closed, however millions of people around the world are still vulnerable to natural disasters. The Disaster Preparedness and Response Appeal is still accepting donations to help communities in Australia or overseas be better prepared when disaster strikes.

Donations made to the China Sichuan Earthquake Appeal 2008 will:

  • Support the relief and recovery needs of individuals and communities affected by the earthquake, including urgent needs of shelter through the provision of tents and quilts, clean water, food parcels, medical supplies and hygiene kits.
  • Send specialist aid workers to assist in the Red Cross response if required
  • Assist Red Cross in China in preparing and responding to this and future emergencies


Australian Red Cross will not deduct more than 10% of any donation for an international appeal to cover appeal costs. Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people in the affected areas, Australian Red Cross will direct the excess funds to other Disaster Management initiatives in China.

Red Cross in China

Red Cross is the only organisation -- besides the government agencies -- currently engaged in disaster response activities on a nationwide scale in China.

Red Cross is well established in China, with more than 20 million volunteers working around the country. This network is well-placed to mobilise communities to address preparedness and safety measures, assist in rapid assessment of damage after disasters strike, organise initial first aid and rescue efforts, and assist in relief distribution.

Australian Red Cross has responded to humanitarian situations in China, like floods and earthquakes, since the 1970s and has run development programs there since the early 1990s. We currently run HIV and disaster preparedness programs in four provinces.

Our programs in China

Australian Red Cross has a presence in four provinces: Xinjiang in the northwest and Tibet in western China, Yunnan in southwest China and Guangxi in southern China.\

Donations and support - where they come from

The China Sichuan Earthquake Appeal 2008 has closed. The appeal has raised AUD$9 million in donations and pledges thanks to the generosity of the Australian community, businesses and governments.

Download the December 2008 update for donors
[file size: 6.7MB/type: PDF]

Feature stories

Sichuan quake site visit for Foreign Minister

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith praised the work done by Australian Red Cross following the Sichuan earthquake.

Coming down from the mountains

Escaping their mountain village after the China Sichuan earthquake, Madam Guo and her husband are now living in a transitional camp with 200 others.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Special section: China Sichuan earthquake

Media release: Red Cross on the spot as new earthquake strikes (01/09/08)
Media release: Red Cross reaches 100th day of humanitarian relief for China earthquake survivors (20/08/08)
Media release: Red Cross providing much needed shelter to earthquake survivors (20/06/08)