The International Telecommunication Union has deployed 100 satellite terminals to help restore vital communication links in the aftermath of the severe earthquake that struck central China on 12 May.
The 8-magnitude quake in Sichuan province of China killed more than 40 000 people and injured hundreds of thousands, with many still missing 10 days after the tragedy. The quake, which destroyed infrastructure and telecommunications lines, disrupted electricity and transport, brought down buildings and rendered nearly 5-million people homeless, is the country's worst natural disaster in three decades.
With the restoration of communication links, designated government officials and other humanitarian agencies are now able to more efficiently coordinate relief operations. The mobile satellite terminals are easily transported by road and air to be used both by humanitarian workers and the victims of this disaster.
ITU has sent hand-held Thuraya satellite phones which use both satellite and GSM networks and also provide accurate GPS coordinates to aid relief and rescue operations.
The ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE) has benefited from the generous contribution of funds and equipment from its partners: Inmarsat, Iridium, Thuraya, ICO Global Communications, Vizada, TerreStar Global, and FedEx. Thuraya has increased its contribution to the IFCE with an additional 100 handheld satellite phones, augmenting the 50 satellite phones it provided to ITU in 2006.