The death toll of 40,000 gets the headline attention, but there is also a matter of tens of thousands more buried or still missing, a quarter of a million injured and more than 5 million left homeless across eight provinces and municipalities. There have been 156 aftershocks of magnitude 4 or greater, according to the Red Cross/Red Crescent, 25 above 5.0 and the strongest a 6.1. They’ve triggered landslides blocking roads and railways, making the rescue and recovery effort more arduous and creating 18 new lakes, each a threat of new disaster in themselves with every new aftershock.
More than 5 million homes have been damaged and 2 million have collapsed. The government estimates industry in Sichuan has suffered $9.6 billion in damage. The ministry of agriculture says 33,300 hectares of farmland, including more than 10,000 hectares of wheat and rape, and more than 20,000 hectares of vegetables have been damaged in the 13 cities and counties worst hit. Nearly $1 billion has been given in relief aid donations from within China and abroad. The government says that it will provide each person affected by the disaster with half-a-kilogram of food each day for three months.
Tents for the emergency shelters now springing up are the most urgent need. China sent 190,000 tents to Myanmar as part of its cyclone relief aid, exacerbating the shortage.