1st Ld-Writethru: China warns off ineffective volunteers, donations

BEIJING, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Members of the public wanting to help with rescue and relief efforts following the earthquake in Yunnan Province should stay put and make way for professional rescue teams, said the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Tuesday.

Calling for "orderly and effective" support for victims of the quake, Pang Chenmin, head of the ministry's disaster relief bureau, said, "The first 72 hours after a disaster are the golden period for rescues. In order to ensure the best chances of rescuing survivors, we advise non-professional groups and volunteers against entering the quake zone by themselves so as not to cause traffic and communication difficulties."

The 6.5-magnitude earthquake that struck Yunnan's Ludian County on Sunday afternoon has left at least 410 people dead, 12 missing and more than 2,300 others injured.

People wishing to make donations should contact quake relief authorities to find out what is needed prior to donating, and donations should be made via officially registered charity groups or civil affairs departments, the ministry said in a statement.

Pang noted that enthusiastic public support has been a great help since the quake, but, in some cases, overzealousness can get in the way of effective relief.

"Some relief materials are unfit for use in disaster areas; some are substandard products; some are overly abundant and take up precious space and traffic resources," said Pang, adding that some unqualified charity groups were also found to have participated in previous relief efforts.

The ministry also urged charity groups to disclose their detailed ledgers to the public while informing beneficiaries of where the funds and materials come from.

In a circular issued on Tuesday evening, the General Office of the State Council, the Cabinet, urged local authorities and social organizations not to go to the area without permission as there is no accommodation there and it will bring new difficulties.

The circular discouraged non-emergency relief workers from going to the area, saying that the General Office of the State Council will make overall arrangements for disaster relief staff.

The circular also called for better organization and management of donations, encouraging people to donate funds rather than materials.