The Sichuan earthquake has wreaked havoc in China’s far west, as the remnants of Typhoon Nari sweep towards Japan.
There is no word of casualties in Japan or of damage to infrastructure but it has made stranded travellers everywhere in the region very anxious.
China, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the earthquake, is mostly cut off, but many in Japan are heading to these affected areas in search of help. Here are some pointers on how to get there:
Japan: Hong Kong
Passengers pass by a boarded up Seibu train as they wait for the incoming travel section from Hong Kong at Kurashiki station in Japan’s prefectural of Miyagi-Miyagi, on 25 September 2015. Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not issued any travel advice to Japan and instead warns against non-essential travel to the worst affected areas of the Sichuan earthquake. Citizens there can find updated information on their travel pages by going to Japan’s official tourism site (www.travel_to_japan.co.jp) and the website of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Hong Kong, from which many people travel to Japan after travelling through mainland China, is worried by the number of people trying to come to Japan. They have warned against taking more than the maximum permitted number of commercial air tickets due to the limited amount of seats available on flights, as well as advising against any unnecessary expenses. (Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region has not been affected by the earthquake.)
Chen Shuga, a spokesperson for Hong Kong’s transportation department, told Bloomberg: “We have managed to assist many passengers. To tide over the situation, we asked travellers to postpone their travels to Japan until further notice.” Travelers have found alternative routes to mainland China through airports in Beijing and Guangzhou via Shenzhen.
Hong Kong airports are also experiencing disruptions with 20 cancelled flights since 11 December. “If the affected route is also used by mainland flights, we will not issue any new guidance [to passengers] because flights there may suffer the same problem,” she said.
For flights, it is best to check before you leave as international routes connecting with mainland China and Mongolia are still getting inbound and outbound flights. For more information on airlines, see airlines.org.
Those who can, have given up trying to get to Japan and head to western South Korea or to China.
One reader, Shao Xuequan, from Beijing, left Friday on the high-speed KTX train from Moscow to Tokyo, for which he had two tickets. He was on the phone to his wife, who was on the Sichuan earthquake-hit street, from the end of the station as he was due to arrive in Tokyo on 24 December, in time for Christmas, but she said: “At least this route runs through western China and so is less crowded than the Sichuan routes from China to Japan.”
The Sichuan earthquake has hit and the Sichuan earthquake has hit and tourists from Japan have been caught in the gap … I am sadly stuck but otherwise okay. @nikkiblog 😭😭😭😭😭 — KIM TEK (@KTH_Tek) December 23, 2018
China and Japan: get more help
Authorities in the Sichuan province and the municipality of Chongqing are asking for international aid to support the thousands of people left homeless.
While conditions in the Sichuan city of Chengdu have been relatively well attended by volunteer groups and government agencies, others in Chengdu and other cities have been hit harder by the quake.
Chinese soldiers help victims at a makeshift hospital at a collapsed business building. Photograph: Imaginechina/REX/Shutterstock
In Chongqing, according to the Chongqing Evening News, the total number of people made homeless was 89,926 – but some neighbourhoods in the city had as many as 400 people homeless.
In addition to this number, 15,570 people have been registered as missing. The Chinese capital, Beijing, is just 2,342km from Chengdu and there is no way of knowing how many people might still be trapped in Chengdu if there is no more good news on them.
Humanitarian assistance is expected from many other countries and aid organisations, including the US, the World Bank, the UN, Germany, UK, France, South Korea, the World Health Organisation, Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies, Red Crescent Societies from Iran, Qatar, Georgia, Thailand, India, Russia, Australia, Brazil, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Republic of