China Earthquake in Sichuan Province

13 05 2008

We should pray for those pple in Mymmar, Beirut and now China..

Even my overseas colleagues in Xi-An can feel the tremor..  And the Aftershocks are still on-going at 12th May various times like 11pm, 2am, 4am… and 13th May 11am…  This time seemed to be worse than 1998 time. All my Xi-An colleagues also run down the building during these earthquake and aftershocks.. seems like 15 pple reported dead in Xi-An.

Tue, May 13, 2008
Reuters
China quake kills nearly 10,000 in Sichuan province
CHENGDU, CHINA – AN earthquake devastated southwestern China, killing close to 10,000 people and trapping hundreds of others under schools, factories and houses while the worst-hit area was still cut off from rescuers on Tuesday.The 7.8 magnitude quake, centred in Sichuan province, struck in the middle of the school day on Monday and toppled at least eight schools. Chemical-laden factories and at least one hospital collapsed, trapping hundreds more, state media said.The death toll appeared likely to climb in China’s worst earthquake for over three decades as troops struggled on foot to reach the worst-hit area of Wenchuan, some 100km from the Sichuan’s provincial capital Chengdu.

Officials said there was no word from three townships nearest epicentre in Wenchuan, a hilly county of 112,000 people.

 

About 900 teenagers were buried under a three-storey school building in the Sichuan city of Dujiangyan. Premier Wen Jiabao, who rushed there, bowed three times in grief before some of the 50 bodies already pulled out, Xinhua news agency reported.

Xinhua said at another Dujiangyan school 420 students were trapped and workers had so far been able to rescue less than 100.

‘Not one minute can be wasted,’ Mr Wen said. ‘One minute, one second could mean a child’s life.’

In Chengdu, many residents slept outside or in cars, fearing more tremours in the city where at least 45 people died and 600 were injured.

The government has rushed troops and medical teams to dig for survivors and treat the injured. Sometimes struggling to contain his emotions, Mr Wen vowed to spare no effort while urging crying and injured residents to stay calm.

Severed roads and rail lines blocked the way to Wenchuan, and local officials described crumpled houses, landslides and scenes of desperation.

‘We are in urgent need of tents, food, medicine and satellite communications equipment,’ the Communist Party chief of Wenchuan, Mr Wang Bin said, according to Xinhua.

Townships collapse
Most farmers’ homes in two townships had collapsed and there was no word from the three townships nearest the epicentre, which have a population of 24,000, the report added. So far Wenchuan has reported 15 dead, a number likely to rise steeply.

More than 7,000 may have died in Sichuan’s Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County, where 80 per cent of the buildings were destroyed, Sichuan television said. Beichuan has a population of 161,000, meaning about one in 10 there were killed or injured.

‘Even if it means walking in, we must enter the worst-hit areas as quickly as possible,’ Mr Wen said, according to Xinhua.

But a paramilitary officer marching with a hundred troops towards Wenchuan described a devastated landscape that is likely to yield many dead and to frustrate rescuers.

‘I have seen many collapsed civilian houses and the rocks dropped from mountains on the roadside are everywhere,’ said the People’s Armed Police officer Liu Zaiyuan, according to Xinhua.

Thunderstorms forecast in Sichuan for Tuesday could make rescue attempts more difficult and dislodge more loose rocks.

Most phone lines in Wenchuan were down and a website for the region’s Aba prefecture said the quake had cut several major highways and communications were largely severed in 11 counties.

Landslides had cut off three major rail lines leading to Chengdu, stranding 31 passenger trains and 149 cargo trains, Xinhua said, but no casualties had been reported.

The US Geological Survey said the main quake struck at 0628 GMT (2.28pm Singapore time) at a depth of 10 km.

Its force was felt across much of China and caused buildings to sway in Beijing and Shanghai and as far away as the Thai capital Bangkok.

Shock to region
The quake was another shock to the region already trying to cope with the devastation of a cyclone this month in Burma.

Some 1.5 million people in Burma are facing hunger and disease after the cyclone ravaged the Irrawaddy delta, leaving an official toll of 31,938 dead and 29,770 missing.

The Sichuan quake was the worst to hit China since the 1976 Tangshan tremor in northeastern China where up to 300,000 died.

This time the devastation was worst in hilly farming country, where winding roads can be hard travel even in normal times. The area is near the famed Wolong panda reserve.

The disaster has come at a bad time for China, which holds the Olympic Games in August, and has been struggling to keep a lid on unrest in ethnic Tibetan areas.

Mr Tong Chongde, a spokesman for the massive Three Gorges Dam Project near Sichuan, said there was no damage to the structure.

In Shefang city in Sichuan, 6,000 residents were evacuated after two chemical plants were levelled, trapping more than a hundred people and spilling corrosive liquids.

In Beijing and Shanghai, office workers poured into the streets. In the capital, there was no visible damage and the showpiece Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium was unscathed.

Chinese officials and scientists said that Beijing was unlikely to see more aftershocks, Xinhua reported.

In Washington, President George W. Bush said the United States was ready to help. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon as well as Japan, France, Germany and other powers have also sent messages offering condolences and help.

But for now China is struggling to get its own rescuers where they are most needed, and one international aid expert said the death toll was likely to rise.

‘Our biggest concern is children who were in schools and orphanages when the earthquake hit,’ said Mr Wyndham James, the China country director for the Save the Children charity.

‘I can imagine the authorities are releasing only conservative figures that are likely to grow.’ Some 61 people have been confirmed killed in northern Shaanxi, 48 in northwestern Gansu, 50 in Chongqing municipality, and one in Yunnan province, Xinhua said, citing the national headquarters of disaster relief. — REUTERS

AsiaOne Source 

Tue, May 13, 2008
China Daily, ANN

Quake ‘predicted’ 5 years ago

A seismologist warned more than five years ago that based on historical records and animal studies, a strong earthquake was likely in Sichuan.

“Sichuan is virtually certain to experience an earthquake measuring above 7 in the next few years,” Chen Xuezhong, a senior researcher with the geophysics institute of State Seismological Bureau (SSB), wrote in a paper published in December 2002, in the periodical Recent Developments in World Seismology.

The article is still available online.

In the article, Chen said Sichuan stood a big chance of being hit by a huge temblor due to its geographic location, and records since 1800 showed the average interval between major quakes in the province was about 16 years.

 

Since 1900, the area had experienced frequent big temblors, and records showed the longest interval between them was 19 years, with the average being 11 years, the paper said.

“However, the area hasn’t seen any earthquake measuring above 7 for 26 years, since a big temblor struck its Songpan and Pingwu counties in 1976,” Chen wrote.

“We must be prepared for a big earthquake after 2003.”

In a telephone interview with China Daily on Monday, Chen said many seismologists had noticed the pattern, which was why he did the study.

“But the study was published as an academic paper so it didn’t receive much attention,” he said.

“However, we can conclude that yesterday’s earthquake is in line with the rule and it’s natural.”

Zhang Guomin, another researcher with the SSB’s earthquake science institute, also said?on Monday?that Wenchuan is prone to earthquakes as it is on a major fault line – the south-north fault line that runs from Yunnan to Ningxia.

The county is also on a small fault line known as the Longmen mountain earthquake belt, he said.

Zhang also warned residents in earthquake-affected of possible aftershocks, which could be as devastating as the main tremor.

“A big earthquake can release most, but not all of the underground energy, and its aftershocks may cause natural disasters,” he said.

Aftershocks are generally weaker than the main quake, but buildings that have already been damaged are prone to collapse in an aftershock, he said.

Meanwhile, ahead of Monday’s deadly earthquake, many people reported seeing unusual animal behavior.

On Saturday, local media reported that hundreds of thousands of toads had appeared on the streets of Manzhu, a city about 60 km southeast of Wenchuan.

A resident surnamed Liu was quoted as saying he saw countless toads killed by passing vehicles as they crossed roads, and that he had never seen anything like it.

Similarly, on Friday, people in Taizhou, Jiangsu province, also said they saw tens of thousands of toads on the city’s streets, local media said.

Experts have said animals can give advance notice of quakes, as they sense tremors before they happen.

Unfortunately, no one heeded the toads’ “warning”.

In response to questions from the public about the reptilian swarms, officials in both Mianzhu and Taizhou said there was nothing unusual about them.

“The move is because of the change of weather,” Shu Shi, director of the Mianzhu forestry bureau, was quoted as saying by local media.

AsiaOne Source

8,500 killed in 7.8-strong jolt <!–
Tremors felt even in Chinese capital, rattling nerves with the Olympic Games less than three months away. -ST –>
Tracy Quek
Tue, May 13, 2008
The Straits Times
 
  
 

BEIJING – A POWERFUL 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed more than 8,500 people in southwestern China yesterday, and rattled the nerves of capital Beijing less than three months before the Olympics.The quake – the strongest to hit China in 32 years since a quake of similar intensity levelled northern Tangshan city in 1976 – struck at 2.28pm near densely populated areas in south-west Sichuan province.Its epicentre was traced to Wenchuan county, a mountainous region of 112,000 inhabitants. Wenchuan is located some 150km north-west of Chengdu, Sichuan’s bustling capital city and home to 12 million people.

Yesterday’s quake toppled buildings, cut telecommunications lines, blocked roads and disrupted flights in and out of Sichuan.

 

In north-eastern Beichuan county alone, between 3,000 and 5,000 people were feared dead, with another 10,000 injured, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

In Dujiangyan city, which is near the quake’s epicentre, as many as 900 students were ‘feared buried’ after a school building collapsed.

Other reports of deaths and injuries also came flooding in through the night from neighbouring provinces and cities such as Chongqing, Yunnan and Gansu.

But a senior seismologist warned last night that the worst might not be over. Dr Zhang Guomin, a research fellow with the China Seismological Bureau, told Xinhua the aftershocks ‘could be just as devastating as the main tremor’ for residents.

With the death toll rising, the quake brought back bad memories of the destruction caused by the 1976 quake in Tangshan city in northern Hebei province. At the time, over a quarter of Tangshan’s one million inhabitants died and 90 per cent of its buildings were flattened.

Tremors from yesterday’s quake were felt across much of the mainland, including in Beijing more than 2,000km away. Even countries as far south as Vietnam and Thailand experienced tremors.

In Beijing, the host city for the 2008 Olympics, buildings swayed for a few minutes, sparking panic among workers who fled their offices and spilled onto the streets.

The State Seismological Bureau said the capital’s eastern Tongzhou district experienced a 3.9-magnitude temblor. There were no reports of casualties or damage to buildings, including the city’s newly built Olympic venues.

Singaporean Koh Beng Hong, who works at the Singapore Tourism Board’s Beijing office, said: ‘I could feel the building moving forward and backwards – I thought I was ill or suddenly dizzy.’

When she and her co-workers rushed down from their 12th-storey office in central Beijing, they found that many others from buildings nearby had done the same thing.

Meanwhile, Xinhua said Beijing’s iconic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic stadium – which will host the all-important opening ceremony – was not affected. The stadium, where 3,000 workers are still working on the structure, can withstand up to an 8-magnitude quake.

Chinese leaders reacted swiftly to the disaster. President Hu Jintao urged an ‘all-out’ effort to rescue victims, while Premier Wen Jiabao arrived on the scene within hours of the disaster.

Mr Wen called for ‘calm, confidence, courage and efficient organisation’, and vowed to go all out in the relief work. ‘We will not be afraid of danger, tiredness. We will definitely overcome this major disaster,’ he said.

Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said it has so far not received reports of any Singaporeans injured in the quake and said its missions in China ‘are closely monitoring the situation’.

tracyq@sph.com.sg

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