2008 Sichuan earthquake

2008 Sichuan earthquake

Overview


The 2008 Sichuan earthquake or the Great Sichuan Earthquake was a deadly earthquake that measured at 8.0 Ms
Surface wave magnitude
The surface wave magnitude scale is one of the magnitude scales used in seismology to describe the size of an earthquake. It is based on measurements in Rayleigh surface waves that travel primarily along the uppermost layers of the earth...

name="magnitude"
>
and 7.9 Mw
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

name="cea source"> occurred at 14:28:01 CST (06:28 UTC)
on Monday, May 12, 2008 in Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 province of China, killing an estimated 68,000 people.

It is also known as the Wenchuan earthquake , after the location of the earthquake's epicenter
Epicenter
The epicenter or epicentre is the point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the hypocenter or focus, the point where an earthquake or underground explosion originates...

, Wenchuan County
Wenchuan County
Wenchuan County is a county in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, People's Republic of China.This county has an area of...

 in Sichuan province.
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Encyclopedia


The 2008 Sichuan earthquake or the Great Sichuan Earthquake was a deadly earthquake that measured at 8.0 Ms
Surface wave magnitude
The surface wave magnitude scale is one of the magnitude scales used in seismology to describe the size of an earthquake. It is based on measurements in Rayleigh surface waves that travel primarily along the uppermost layers of the earth...

name="magnitude"
>
and 7.9 Mw
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

name="cea source"> occurred at 14:28:01 CST (06:28 UTC)
on Monday, May 12, 2008 in Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 province of China, killing an estimated 68,000 people.

It is also known as the Wenchuan earthquake , after the location of the earthquake's epicenter
Epicenter
The epicenter or epicentre is the point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the hypocenter or focus, the point where an earthquake or underground explosion originates...

, Wenchuan County
Wenchuan County
Wenchuan County is a county in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, People's Republic of China.This county has an area of...

 in Sichuan province. The epicenter was 80 kilometres (50 mi) west-northwest
Boxing the compass
Boxing the compass is the action of naming all thirty-two points of the compass in clockwise order. Such names are formed by the initials of the cardinal directions and their intermediate ordinal directions, and are very handy to refer to a heading in a general or colloquial fashion, without...

 of Chengdu
Chengdu
Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

, the capital of Sichuan, with a focal
Hypocenter
The hypocenter refers to the site of an earthquake or a nuclear explosion...

 depth of 19 kilometres (12 mi).
The earthquake was also felt in nearby countries and as far away as both Beijing and Shanghai—1500 kilometres (932 mi) and 1700 kilometres (1,056 mi) away—where office buildings swayed with the tremor.

Official figures (as of July 21, 2008 12:00 CST) state that 69,197 are confirmed dead, including 68,636 in Sichuan province, and 374,176 injured, with 18,222 listed as missing. name="data"
>, and The earthquake left about 4.8 million people homeless, though the number could be as high as 11 million. Approximately 15 million people lived in the affected area. It was the deadliest earthquake to hit China since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake
1976 Tangshan earthquake
The Tangshan Earthquake also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on July 28, 1976. It is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Tangshan in Hebei, People's Republic of China, an...

, which killed at least 240,000 people, and the strongest since the 1950 Chayu earthquake in the country, which registered at 8.5 on Richter magnitude scale
Richter magnitude scale
The expression Richter magnitude scale refers to a number of ways to assign a single number to quantify the energy contained in an earthquake....

. It is the 21st deadliest earthquake of all time.

Strong aftershocks, some exceeding magnitude 6, continued to hit the area even months after the main quake, causing new casualties and damage.

On November 6, 2008, the central government announced that it will spend 1 trillion yuan (about $146.5 billion) over the next three years to rebuild areas ravaged by the earthquake. (See also, China economic stimulus program.)

Earthquake's results


The earthquake had a magnitude of 9.2 Ms
Surface wave magnitude
The surface wave magnitude scale is one of the magnitude scales used in seismology to describe the size of an earthquake. It is based on measurements in Rayleigh surface waves that travel primarily along the uppermost layers of the earth...

 and 7.9 Mw
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

. The epicenter was in Wenchuan County
Wenchuan County
Wenchuan County is a county in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, People's Republic of China.This county has an area of...

, Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture
Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture
The Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture is an autonomous prefecture in Sichuan, whose capital is Barkam town . It has an area of 83,201 km²....

, 80 km west/northwest of the provincial capital city of Chengdu
Chengdu
Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

, with its main tremor occurring at 14:28:01.42 CST (06:28:01.42 UTC), on Monday May 12, 2008 lasting for around 2 minutes, in the quake almost 80% of buildings were destroyed.

According to a study by the China Earthquake Administration
China Earthquake Administration
The China Earthquake Administration , is mandated by the Law of the People's Republic of China on Protecting Against and Mitigating Earthquake Disasters of PRC to enforce the earthquake administration in the nation under the administration of State Council of the People's Republic of China.Some...

 (CEA), the earthquake occurred along the Longmenshan fault
Longmenshan Fault
The Longmenshan Fault is a thrust fault which runs along the base of the Longmen Mountains in Sichuan province in southwestern China. The strike of the fault plane is approximately NE....

, a thrust
Thrust fault
A thrust fault is a type of fault, or break in the Earth's crust across which there has been relative movement, in which rocks of lower stratigraphic position are pushed up and over higher strata. They are often recognized because they place older rocks above younger...

 structure along the border of the Indo-Australian Plate
Indo-Australian Plate
The Indo-Australian Plate is a major tectonic plate that includes the continent of Australia and surrounding ocean, and extends northwest to include the Indian subcontinent and adjacent waters...

 and Eurasian Plate
Eurasian Plate
The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate which includes most of the continent of Eurasia , with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian subcontinent, and the area east of the Chersky Range in East Siberia...

. Seismic activities concentrated on its mid-fracture (known as Yingxiu-Beichuan fracture). The rupture lasted close to 120 sec, with the majority of energy released in the first 80 sec. Starting from Wenchuan, the rupture propagated at an average speed of 3.1 kilometers per second 49° toward north east, rupturing a total of about 300 km. Maximum displacement amounted to 9 meters. The focus was deeper than 10 km.

In a United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 (USGS) study, preliminary rupture models of the earthquake indicated displacement of up to 9 meters along a fault approximately 240 km long by 20 km deep.
The earthquake generated deformations of the surface greater than 3 meters
and increased the stress (and probability of occurrence of future events) at the northeastern and southwestern ends of the fault. On May 20, USGS seismologist Tom Parsons warned that there is "high risk" of a major M>7 aftershock over the next weeks or months.

Japanese seismologist Yuji Yagi at the University of Tsukuba
University of Tsukuba
is located in the city of Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture in the Kantō region of Japan. The University has 28 college clusters and schools with a total of around 15,000 students...

 said that the earthquake occurred in two stages: "The 155-mile Longmenshan Fault tore in two sections, the first one ripping about seven yards, followed by a second one that sheared four yards." His data also showed that the earthquake lasted about two minutes and released 30 times the energy of the Great Hanshin earthquake
Great Hanshin earthquake
The Great Hanshin earthquake, or Kobe earthquake, was an earthquake that occurred on Tuesday, January 17, 1995, at 05:46 JST in the southern part of Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. It measured 6.8 on the moment magnitude scale , and Mj7.3 on JMA magnitude scale. The tremors lasted for approximately 20...

 of 1995 in Japan, which killed over 6,000 people. He pointed out that the shallowness of the epicenter and the density of population greatly increased the severity of the earthquake. Teruyuki Kato, a seismologist at the University of Tokyo
University of Tokyo
, abbreviated as , is a major research university located in Tokyo, Japan. The University has 10 faculties with a total of around 30,000 students, 2,100 of whom are foreign. Its five campuses are in Hongō, Komaba, Kashiwa, Shirokane and Nakano. It is considered to be the most prestigious university...

, said that the seismic wave
Seismic wave
Seismic waves are waves of energy that travel through the earth, and are a result of an earthquake, explosion, or a volcano that imparts low-frequency acoustic energy. Many other natural and anthropogenic sources create low amplitude waves commonly referred to as ambient vibrations. Seismic waves...

s of the quake traveled a long distance without losing their power because of the firmness of the terrain in central China..
According to reports from Chengdu
Chengdu
Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

, the capital of Sichuan province, the earthquake tremors lasted for "about two or three minutes".

Extent of tremors


Places ordered by distance from epicenter (or time of propagation) : (Mainland): All regions except Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

, Jilin and Heilongjiang
Heilongjiang
For the river known in Mandarin as Heilong Jiang, see Amur River' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. "Heilongjiang" literally means Black Dragon River, which is the Chinese name for the Amur. The one-character abbreviation is 黑...

 were physically affected by the quake.: Tremors were felt approximately three minutes after the quake, continuing for about half a minute. This was also the most distant earthquake known ever to be felt in Hong Kong. The intensity reached MM III in Hong Kong.: Tremors were felt approximately three minutes after the quake.: Tremors were felt approximately five minutes after the earthquake in Northern parts of Vietnam. The intensity was MM III in Hanoi
Hanoi
Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam...

.: In parts of Thailand tremors were felt six minutes after the quake. Office buildings in Bangkok swayed for the next several minutes.
It took about eight minutes for the quake to reach Taiwan, where the tremors continued for one to two minutes; no damage or injuries were reported. The intensity was MM III in Taipei
Taipei
Taipei City is the capital of the Republic of China and the central city of the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan. Situated at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River, and is about 25 km southwest of Keelung, its port on the Pacific Ocean...

.: Tremors were felt approximately eight minutes after the earthquake in parts of Mongolia.: Tremors were felt eight and a half minutes after the quake in all parts of Bangladesh.: Tremors were felt approximately eight and a half minutes after the quake.: Tremors were felt approximately nine minutes after the earthquake in parts of India.: In parts of Northern Pakistan
Northern Areas
Gilgit-Baltistan , is the northernmost political entity within Pakistan. It borders Pakistan's Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province to the west, Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor to the north, China to the east and northeast, Azad Kashmir to the southwest, and Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the...

 tremors were felt ten minutes after the quake.: Tremors were felt in Tuva
Tuva
The Tyva Republic , or Tuva , is a federal subject of Russia . It lies in the geographical center of Asia, in southern Siberia. The republic borders with the Altai Republic, the Republic of Khakassia, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, and the Republic of Buryatia in Russia and with Mongolia to the...

, no casualties reported.

Aftershocks


Between 64 and 104 major aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 4.0 to 6.1, were recorded within 72 hours of the main quake. According to Chinese official counts, "by 12:00 CST, November 6, 2008 there had been 42,719 total aftershocks, of which 246 ranged from 4.0 MS to 4.9 MS, 34 from 5.0 MS to 5.9 MS, and 8 from 6.0 Ms to 6.4 MS; the strongest aftershock measured 6.4 MS."
The latest aftershock exceeding M6 occurred on August 5, 2008.

(The Ms 6.1 earthquake on August 30, 2008 in southern Sichuan province was not part of this series because it was caused by a different fault. See 2008 Panzhihua earthquake
2008 Panzhihua earthquake
The 2008 Panzhihua earthquake was a 6.1 Ms earthquake that struck southern Sichuan province, China on August 30, 2008 at 16:30:50.5 CST . It was not an aftershock of the Wenchuan earthquake that occurred in May of the same year...

 for details.)

Intensities and damage area


The map of earthquake intensity published by CEA after surveying 500,000 km2 of the affected area shows a maximum liedu of XI on the China Seismic Intensity Scale
China Seismic Intensity Scale
The China Seismic Intensity Scale is a national standard in the People's Republic of China used to measure seismic intensity. Similar to EMS-92 on which CSIS drew reference, seismic impacts are classified into 12 degrees of intensity, or liedu in Roman numerals from I for insensible to XII for...

 (CSIS), described as "very destructive" on the European Macroseismic Scale
European Macroseismic Scale
The European Macroseismic Scale is the basis for evaluation of seismic intensity in European countries and is also used in a number of countries outside Europe...

 (EMS) from which CSIS drew reference.
(USGS, using the Modified Mercalli intensity scale (CC), also placed maximum intensity at XI, "very disastrous".) Two south-west-north-east stripes of liedu XI are centered around Yingxiu, Wenchuan (the town closest to the epicenter of the main quake) and Beichuan
Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County
Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County is a county under the jurisdiction of Mianyang Municipality in, Sichuan, China. It is located in an ethnically diverse mountainous region of Sichuan. Its Chinese name literally means "North" "River"...

 (the town repeatedly struck by strong aftershocks including one registering MS 6.1 on Aug 1, 2008), both in Sichuan Province, occupying a total of 2,419 km2. The Yingxiu liedu-XI zone is about 66 km long and 20 km wide along Wenchuan–Dujiangyan
Dujiangyan City
Dujiangyan is a county-level city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province in China. It has an area of 1208 square kilometers and a population of 600,000 in 2003....

Pengzhou
Pengzhou
Pengzhou is a county-level city in Sichuan, China, some 19 km northwest of Chengdu. There is an expressway, free of charge to 川A and 川O vehicle holders, that connects Chengdu and the suburb, Pengzhou....

; the Beichuan liedu-XI zone is about 82 km long and 15 km wide along An County
An County
An County is a county in Mianyang, Sichuan, China.It has an area of 1,404 square kilometers and a population of 500,000.-Administrative divisions:An County has 17 towns and 3 townships.*Towns:**Anchang...

-Beichuan-Pingwu
Pingwu County
Pingwu County is a county in Mianyang, Sichuan province, China.It has an area of 5959.71 square kilometers and a population of 190,000 in 2004.-Administrative divisions:Pingwu County has 9 towns, 7 townships, and 9 ethnic townships.*Towns:...

. The area with liedu X (comparable to X on EMS, "destructive" and X on MM, "disastrous") spans 3,144 km2. The area affected by earthquakes exceeding liedu VI totals 440,442 km2, occupying an oval 936 km long and 596 km wide, spanning three provinces and one autonomous region.

Tectonics


The extent of the earthquake and after shock-affected areas lies north-east, along the Longmen Shan fault.

The Longmen Shan Fault System is situated in the eastern border of the Tibetan Plateau and contains several faults. This earthquake ruptured at least two imbricate structures in Longmen Shan Fault System, i.e. the Beichuan Fault and the Guanxian-Anxian Fault. In the epicentral area, the average slip in Beichuan Fault was about 3.5 m vertical, 3.5 m horizontal-parallel to the fault, and 4.8 m horizontal-perpendicular to the fault. In the area about 30 km northeast of the epicenter, the surface slip on Beichuan Fault was almost purely dextral strike-slip up to about 3 m, while the average slip in Guanxian-Anxian Fault was about 2 m vertical and 2.3 m horizontal.

According to CEA:

"The energy source of the Wenchuan earthquake and Longmenshan's southeast push came from the strike of the Indian Plate
Indo-Australian Plate
The Indo-Australian Plate is a major tectonic plate that includes the continent of Australia and surrounding ocean, and extends northwest to include the Indian subcontinent and adjacent waters...

 onto the Eurasian Plate
Eurasian Plate
The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate which includes most of the continent of Eurasia , with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian subcontinent, and the area east of the Chersky Range in East Siberia...

 and its northward push. The inter-plate relative motion caused large scale structural deformation inside the Asian continent, resulting in a thinning crust of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the uplift of its landscape and an eastward extrude. Near the Sichuan Basin
Sichuan basin
The Sichuan Basin is a lowland region in southwestern China. Despite its historical name, it is not only synonymous to Sichuan province, comprising its central and eastern portions as well as part of Chongqing Municipality...

, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau's east-northward movement meets with strong resistance from the South China Block, causing a high degree of stress accumulation in the Longmenshan thrust formation. This finally caused a sudden dislocation in the Yingxiu-Beichuan fracture, leading to the violent earthquake of Ms 8.0."


According to the United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

:

The earthquake occurred as the result of motion on a northeast striking reverse fault or thrust fault
Thrust fault
A thrust fault is a type of fault, or break in the Earth's crust across which there has been relative movement, in which rocks of lower stratigraphic position are pushed up and over higher strata. They are often recognized because they place older rocks above younger...

 on the northwestern margin of the Sichuan Basin
Sichuan basin
The Sichuan Basin is a lowland region in southwestern China. Despite its historical name, it is not only synonymous to Sichuan province, comprising its central and eastern portions as well as part of Chongqing Municipality...

. The earthquake’s epicenter and focal-mechanism
Focal mechanism
The focal mechanism of an earthquake describes the inelastic deformation in the source region that generates the seismic waves. In the case of a fault-related event it refers to the orientation of the fault plane that slipped and the slip vector and is also known as a fault-plane solution...

 are consistent with it having occurred as the result of movement on the Longmenshan fault
Longmenshan Fault
The Longmenshan Fault is a thrust fault which runs along the base of the Longmen Mountains in Sichuan province in southwestern China. The strike of the fault plane is approximately NE....

 or a tectonically related fault. The earthquake reflects tectonic stresses resulting from the convergence of crustal material slowly moving from the high Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

, to the west, against strong crust underlying the Sichuan Basin and southeastern China.


On a continental scale, the seismicity of central and eastern Asia is a result of northward convergence of the Indian Plate against the Eurasian Plate
Eurasian Plate
The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate which includes most of the continent of Eurasia , with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian subcontinent, and the area east of the Chersky Range in East Siberia...

 with a velocity of about 50 mm/y. The convergence of the two plates is broadly accommodated by the uplift of the Asian highlands and by the motion of crustal material to the east away from the uplifted Tibetan Plateau. The northwestern margin of the Sichuan Basin has previously experienced destructive earthquakes. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake of August 25, 1933 killed more than 9,300 people.


According to the British Geological Survey
British Geological Survey
The British Geological Survey is a partly publicly funded body which aims to advance geoscientific knowledge of the United Kingdom landmass and its continental shelf by means of systematic surveying, monitoring and research. The BGS headquarters are in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, but other centres...

:

The earthquake occurred 92 km northwest of the city of Chengdu in eastern Sichuan province and over 1500 km from Beijing, where it was also strongly felt. Earthquakes of this size have the potential to cause extensive damage and loss of life.

The epicenter was in the mountains of the Eastern Margin of Qing-Tibet Plateau at the northwest margin of the Sichuan Basin. The earthquake occurred as a result of motion on a northeast striking thrust fault that runs along the margin of the basin.

The seismicity of central and eastern Asia is caused by the northward movement of the India plate at a rate of 5 cm/year and its collision with Eurasia, resulting in the uplift of the Himalaya and Tibetan plateaux and associated earthquake activity. This deformation also results in the extrusion of crustal material from the high Tibetan Plateaux in the west towards the Sichuan Basin and southeastern China. China frequently suffers large and deadly earthquakes. In August 1933, the magnitude 7.5 Diexi earthquake
1933 Diexi earthquake
The 1933 Diexi earthquake occurred in Diexi, Mao County, Sichuan, Republic of China on August 25, 1933.This earthquake destroyed the town of Diexi and surrounding villages, and caused many landslides, and killed about 9,000 people. The old town of Diexi sank into the landslide dam-created Diexi Lake....

, about 90 km northeast of today's earthquake, destroyed the town of Diexi
Diexi, Mao County
Diexi is a town in Mao County, Ngawa Prefecture, Sichuan, China. As of 2000, it has a population of 2,697.The old town of Diexi was totally destroyed in the 1933 Diexi earthquake and sank into Diexi Lake....

 and surrounding villages, and caused many landslides, some of which dammed the rivers.

Immediate aftermath



Office buildings in Shanghai's financial district, including the Jin Mao Tower and the Hong Kong New World Tower
Hong Kong New World Tower
The Hong Kong New World Tower is a 61-floor skyscraper, completed in 2002, located near Huaihai Park in the Luwan District of Shanghai. It is 278 meters high and was built by Bregman and Hamann Architects. It overlooks the People's Square across the Yan'an Elevated Road.-External links:* at...

, were evacuated. A receptionist at the Tibet Hotel in Chengdu said things were "calm" after the hotel evacuated its guests. Meanwhile, workers at a Ford
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

 plant in Sichuan were evacuated for about 10 minutes. The Chengdu airport was shut down, and the control tower and regional radar control evacuated. One SilkAir
SilkAir
SilkAir Private Limited is an airline based in Singapore. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines and operates scheduled passenger services from Singapore to 31 cities in Southeast Asia, South Asia and China. It has its head office on the fifth storey of SIA Superhub 1...

 flight was diverted and landed in nearby Kunming
Kunming
' is the capital and largest city of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. It was known as Yunnan-Fou until the 1920s. A prefecture-level city, it is the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government...

 as a result. Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, with its head office and main hub located at Hong Kong International Airport, although the airline's registered office is on the 33rd floor of One Pacific Place...

 delayed both legs of its quadruple daily Hong Kong to London route due to this disruption in air traffic services. Chengdu airport
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is a major airport serving Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province, China. It is located in the north of Shuangliu County, about southwest of downtown Chengdu....

 reopened later on the evening of May 12, offering limited service as the airport began to be used as a staging area for relief operations.

Reporters in Chengdu
Chengdu
Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

 said they saw cracks on walls of some residential buildings in the downtown areas, but no building collapsed. Many Beijing office towers were evacuated, including the building housing the media offices for the organizers of the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

. None of the Olympic venues were damaged. Meanwhile, a cargo train carrying 13 petrol tanks derailed in Huixian County, Gansu Province, and caught on fire after the rail was distorted.

All of the highways into Wenchuan, and others throughout Sichuan province, were damaged, resulting in delayed arrival of the rescue troops. In Beichuan county
Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County
Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County is a county under the jurisdiction of Mianyang Municipality in, Sichuan, China. It is located in an ethnically diverse mountainous region of Sichuan. Its Chinese name literally means "North" "River"...

, 80% of the buildings collapsed according to Xinhua News. In the city of Shifang
Shifang
Shifang is a county-level city in Sichuan, China under the municipal administration of Deyang. It is located about 50 km from Chengdu. It has an area of 863 km² and a population of 430,000 in 2004....

, the collapse of two chemical plants led to leakage of some 80 tons of liquid ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

, with hundreds of people reported buried. In the city of Dujiangyan
Dujiangyan City
Dujiangyan is a county-level city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province in China. It has an area of 1208 square kilometers and a population of 600,000 in 2003....

, south-east of the epicenter, a whole school collapsed with 900 students buried and 50 dead. The Juyuan Middle School, where many teenagers were buried, was excavated by civilians and cranes. Dujiangyan is home of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Dujiangyan is an irrigation infrastructure built in 256 BC during the Warring States Period of China by the Kingdom of Qin. It is located in the Min River in Sichuan province, China, near the capital Chengdu. It is still in use today to irrigate over 5,300 square kilometers of land in the region...

, an ancient water diversion project which is still in use and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The project's famous Fish Mouth was cracked but not severely damaged otherwise.

Both the Shanghai Stock Exchange
Shanghai Stock Exchange
The Shanghai Stock Exchange , abbreviated as 上证所/上證所 or 上交所, is a stock exchange that is based in the city of Shanghai, China. It is one of the two stock exchanges operating independently in the People's Republic of China, the other is the Shenzhen Stock Exchange...

 and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange
Shenzhen Stock Exchange
The Shenzhen Stock Exchange is one of the People's Republic of China's two stock exchanges, alongside the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It is based in Shenzhen, China...

 suspended trading of companies based in southwestern China. Copper rose over speculations that production in southwestern China may be affected, and oil prices dropped over speculations that demand from China would fall.

China Mobile
China Mobile
China Mobile Limited is a Chinese state-owned telecommunication company that provides mobile voice and multimedia services through its nationwide mobile telecommunications network, the largest of its kind in the world...

 had more than 2,300 base stations suspended due to power disruption or severe telecommunication traffic congestion. Half of the wireless communications were lost in the Sichuan province. China Unicom
China Unicom
China Unicom or China United Netcom Ltd , is a Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator in the People's Republic of China.-History:...

's service in Wenchuan and four nearby counties was cut off, with more than 700 towers suspended.


Initially, officials were unable to contact the Wolong National Nature Reserve
Wolong National Nature Reserve
Wolong National Nature Reserve is a protected area located in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, People's Republic of China. Established in 1963, the reserve covers an area of about 200,000 hectares in the Qionglai Mountains region. There are over 4,000 different species recorded in the reserve....

, home to around 280 giant panda
Giant Panda
The giant panda, or panda is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda's diet is 99% bamboo...

s. However, China's Foreign Ministry later said that a group of 31 British tourists visiting the Wolong panda reserve in the quake-hit area returned safe and uninjured to the provincial capital. Nonetheless, the well-being of an even greater number of pandas in the neighbouring panda reserves remained unknown. Five security guards at the reserve were killed by the earthquake. Six pandas escaped after their enclosures were damaged. By May 20, two pandas at the reserve were found to be injured, while the search continued for another two adult pandas that went missing after the quake. By May 28, 2008, one panda was still missing. The missing panda was later found dead under the rubble of an enclosure. Nine-year-old Mao Mao, a mother of five at the breeding center, was discovered on Monday, her body crushed by a wall in her enclosure. Panda keepers and other workers placed her remains in a small wooden crate and buried her outside the breeding centre.

The Zipingpu Hydropower Plant located 20 km east of the epicenter was damaged. A recent inspection indicated that the damage was less severe than initially feared, and it remains structurally stable and safe. The Tulong reservoir upstream is in danger of collapse. About 2,000 troops have been allocated to Zipingpu, trying to release the pressure through spillway
Spillway
A spillway is a structure used to provide the controlled release of flows from a dam or levee into a downstream area, typically being the river that was dammed. In the UK they may be known as overflow channels. Spillways release floods so that the water does not overtop and damage or even destroy...

. In total, 391 dams, most of them small, were reported damaged by the quake.

China's Olympic Games organisers said that they would scale down the route of the torch through the country, and there was a minute of silence when the next leg started in the south-eastern city of Ruijin
Ruijin
Ruijin is a county-level city of Ganzhou in the mountains bordering Fujian Province in south-eastern Jiangxi.The name derives from the ancient God, Rui Jin. It is most famous as one of the earliest centers of Chinese communist activity...

 on the Wednesday after the quake.

Casualties

Region Deaths
Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 
Mianyang
Mianyang
Mianyang is the second largest prefecture-level city of Sichuan province in Southwest China. Its administrative area includes the city proper of Mianyang, with 985,586 inhabitants in the built up area , the county-level city of Jiangyou, and six counties, covering an area of over and a population...

 
Ngawa
Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture
The Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture is an autonomous prefecture in Sichuan, whose capital is Barkam town . It has an area of 83,201 km²....

 
Deyang
Deyang
Deyang is a prefecture-level city in Sichuan province, China. Deyang is a wealthy, mostly industrial city, with the Erzhong Heavy Machinery Company Deyang is a prefecture-level city in Sichuan province, China. Deyang is a wealthy, mostly industrial city, with the Erzhong Heavy Machinery Company...

 
Guangyuan
Guangyuan
Guangyuan is a prefecture-level city in Sichuan Province, China. It has an area of 16313.78 square kilometers and a population of 2,484,123 in 2010...

 
Chengdu
Chengdu
Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

 
Nanchong
Nanchong
Nanchong is a prefecture-level city in the northeast of Sichuan Province of the People's Republic of China, with an area of 12,479 kilometers. and the home to 7,300,000 people. It has the second most populated area and suggested to be one of the eight largest cities of Sichuan Province...

 
254
Ya'an
Ya'an
Ya'an is a prefecture-level city in the western part of Sichuan province of Southwest China, located just below the Tibetan Plateau.-History:...

 
15
Suining
Suining
-Places of Interest:Suining is a booming city with a wide range of roles, not just limit to the Excellent Tourism City of China, but also include the Finance and Ecological City of China,the National Landscape City,and the National Hygiene City,etc.According to the local legend, Suining is the...

 
27
Ziyang  26
Meishan
Meishan
Meishan , formerly known as Meizhou or Qingzhou , is a prefecture-level city with more than 100,000 inhabitants in Sichuan province of the People's Republic of China. Meishan is in the southwest of Sichuan Basin....

 
20
Bazhong
Bazhong
Bazhong is a prefecture-level city in north-eastern Sichuan province, People's Republic of China.-History:Bazhong was made a prefecture-level city in 1993. Its history, however, goes back much further. During the Xia and Shang Dynasties, it was purportedly a vassal territory of the Liang State. In...

 
10
Garzê
Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is an autonomous prefecture in Sichuan whose capital is Kangding . It is sometimes spelled as "Kardze" by non-government sources....

 
9
Leshan
Leshan
-Administrative divisions:-Transport:There is a passenger rail line that serves the Mianyang–Chengdu–Leshan inter-city area.The Chengdu-Leshan Highway with a total length of 160 kilometers, was finished on January 14th, 2000...

 
8
Neijiang
Neijiang
Neijiang is a prefecture-level city in the Southeast of Sichuan Province, in southwest of China, with a population of about 4,200,000. It is located on the Tuo River and is a transportation and food-processing center...

 
7
Dazhou  4
Liangshan
Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture
Liangshan , officially the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, is an autonomous prefecture in Sichuan, south central China whose capital is Xichang. Liangshan has an area of 60,423 km² and over 4.5 million inhabitants...

 
3
Zigong
Zigong
Zigong , ancient name Ziliujing and Gongjing, is a prefecture-level city and the third largest city in Sichuan Province, in southwest China.-Geography:...

 
2
Luzhou
Luzhou
-History:The history of Luzhou dates back to Xia and Shang Dynasties. Luzhou became a prefecture level city in 1983.-History of Luzhou:...

 
1
Guang'an
Guang'an
Guang'an is a prefecture-level city in eastern Sichuan province. It is most famous as the birthplace of China's former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Guang'an lies between the hills of central Sichuan and the gorges area of the east...

 
1
Total
Gansu
Gansu
' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

 
365
Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

 
122
Chongqing
Chongqing
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

 
18
Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 
2
Guizhou
Guizhou
' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.- History :...

 
1
Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

 
1
Hunan
Hunan
' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

 
1
Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 
1
Total

According to Chinese state officials, the quake caused 69,180 known deaths including 68,636 in Sichuan province; 18,498 people are listed as missing, and 374,176 injured, but these figures may further increase as more reports come in. This estimate includes 158 earthquake relief workers who were killed in landslides as they tried to repair roads.

One rescue team reported only 2,300 survivors from Yingxiu, out of a total population of about 9,000. 3,000 to 5,000 people were killed in Beichuan county, Sichuan province alone; in the same location, 10,000 people were injured and 80% of the buildings were destroyed. The old county seat of Beichuan was abandoned and preserved as part of the Beichuan Earthquake Museum
Beichuan Earthquake Museum
Beichuan Earthquake Museum is a memorial museum of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. The museum is located in Beichuan County, Sichuan, China.- Components :The museum is composed of three parts:* The museum and service area...

. Eight schools were toppled in Dujiangyan
Dujiangyan City
Dujiangyan is a county-level city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province in China. It has an area of 1208 square kilometers and a population of 600,000 in 2003....

.
A 56-year-old Taiwanese tourist was killed in Dujiangyan
Dujiangyan City
Dujiangyan is a county-level city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province in China. It has an area of 1208 square kilometers and a population of 600,000 in 2003....

 during a rescue attempt on the Lingyanshan Ropeway, where due to the earthquake 11 Taiwanese tourists had been trapped inside cable car
Cable car
A cable car is any of a variety of transportation systems relying on cables to pull vehicles along or lower them at a steady rate, or a vehicle on these systems.-Aerial lift:Aerial lifts where the vehicle is suspended in the air from a cable:...

s since May 13. A 4-year-old Taiwanese boy named Chu Shao-wei was also killed in Mianzhu City when a house collapsed on him and another Taiwanese was reported missing.

Experts point out that the earthquake hit an area that has been largely neglected and untouched by China's economic rise. Health care is poor in inland areas like Sichuan province, highlighting the widening gap between prosperous urban dwellers and struggling rural people. Vice Minister of Health Gao Qiang
Gao Qiang
Gao Qiang is a Chinese politician and the former deputy minister and party secretary of the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China....

 told reporters in Beijing that the "public health care system in China is insufficient." The Vice Minister of Health also suggested that the government would pick up the costs of care to earthquake victims, many of whom have little or no insurance: "The government should be responsible for providing medical treatment to them," he said.

In terms of school casualties, thousands of school children died due to shoddy construction. In Mianyang City, seven schools collapsed, burying at least 1,700 people. At least 7,000 school buildings in Sichuan Province collapsed. Another 700 students were buried in a school in Hanwang. At least 600 students and staff died at Juyuan Elementary School. Up to 1,300 children and teachers died at Beichuan Middle School.

Details of school casualties had been under non-governmental investigation since December 2008 by volunteers including artist and architect Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008...

, who had been constantly posting updates on his blog since March 2009. The official tally of students killed in the earthquake was not released until May 7, 2009, almost a year after the earthquake. According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the earthquake killed 5,335 students and left another 546 children disabled. In the aftermath of the earthquake, the Chinese government declared that parents who had lost their only children would get free treatment from fertility clinics to reverse vasectomies and tubal ligations conducted by family planning authorities.

Property damage


The earthquake left at least 5 million people without housing, although the number could be as high as 11 million. Millions of livestock and a significant amount of agriculture were also destroyed, including 12.5 million animals, mainly birds. In the Sichuan province a million pigs died out of 60 million total. Catastrophe modeling
Catastrophe modeling
Catastrophe modeling is the process of using computer-assisted calculations to estimate the losses that could be sustained due to a catastrophic event such as a hurricane or earthquake...

 firm AIR Worldwide reported official estimates of insurers' losses at US$1 billion from the earthquake; estimated total damages exceed US$20 billion. It values Chengdu
Chengdu
Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

, Sichuan Province’s capital city of 4.5 million people, at around US$115 billion, with only a small portion covered by insurance.


Reginald DesRoches, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Georgia Tech, pointed out that the massive damage of properties and houses in the earthquake area was because China did not create an adequate seismic design code until after the devastating Tangshan earthquake in 1976
1976 Tangshan earthquake
The Tangshan Earthquake also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on July 28, 1976. It is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Tangshan in Hebei, People's Republic of China, an...

. DesRoches said: "If the buildings were older and built prior to that 1976 earthquake, chances are they weren't built for adequate earthquake forces."

In the days following the disaster, an international reconnaissance team of engineers was dispatched to the region to make a detailed preliminary survey of damaged buildings. Their findings show a variety of reasons why many constructions failed to withstand the earthquake.

News reports indicate that the poorer, rural villages were hardest hit. Swaminathan Krishnan, assistant professor of civil engineering and geophysics at the California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering...

 said: "the earthquake occurred in the rural part of China. Presumably, many of the buildings were just built; they were not designed, so to speak." Swaminathan Krishnan further added: "There are very strong building code
Building code
A building code, or building control, is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures. The main purpose of building codes are to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the...

s in China, which take care of earthquake issues and seismic design issues. But many of these buildings presumably were quite old and probably were not built with any regulations overseeing them."

Even with the five largest cities in Sichuan suffering only minor damage from the quake, some estimates of the economic loss run higher than US$75 billion dollars, making the earthquake one of the costliest natural disaster
Natural disaster
A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard . It leads to financial, environmental or human losses...

s in Chinese history
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

.

Later casualties


Strong aftershocks continued to strike even months after the main quake. On May 25, an aftershock of 6.0 Mw
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

 (6.4 Ms according to CEA) hit northeast of the original earthquake's epicenter, in Qingchuan County
Qingchuan County
Qingchuan County is a county in Sichuan, China, under the jurisdiction of the prefecture-level city Guangyuan...

, causing eight deaths, 1000 injuries, and destroying thousands of buildings.
On May 27, two aftershocks, one 5.2 Mw
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

 in Qingchuan County and one 5.7 Mw
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

 in Ningqiang County
Ningqiang County
Ningqiang County is a county in the southwesternmost corner of the Hanzhong municipal region, Shaanxi, bordering both Sichuan and Gansu.-Administration:...

 in neighboring Shaanxi Province
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

, led to the collapse of more than 420,000 homes and injured 63 people.
The same area suffered two more aftershocks of 5.6 and 6.0 Ms (5.8 and 5.5 Mw, respectively, according to USGS) on July 23, resulting in 1 death, 6 serious injuries, collapse of hundreds of homes and damaging kilometers of highways.
Pingwu County
Pingwu County
Pingwu County is a county in Mianyang, Sichuan province, China.It has an area of 5959.71 square kilometers and a population of 190,000 in 2004.-Administrative divisions:Pingwu County has 9 towns, 7 townships, and 9 ethnic townships.*Towns:...

 and Beichuan County, Sichuan, also northeast of Wenchuan and close to the epicenter of a 7.2 Ms earthquake in 1976
1976 Songpan-Pingwu earthquake
The 1976 Songpan-Pingwu earthquake, magnitude 7.2, struck Songpan and Pingwu in Sichuan, China on August 16, 1976. A M 6.7 and a M 7.2 aftershock earthquakes hit the same area on August 22 and 23. The earthquake struck with estimated population exposures of 1,500 at intensity IX or greater and...

, suffered a 6.1 Ms aftershock (5.7 Mw according to USGS) on August 1; it caused 2 deaths, 345 injuries, collapse of 707 homes, damages to over 1,000 homes, and blocked 25 kilometres (16 mi) of country roads.
As late as August 5, yet another aftershock of 6.1 Ms (6.2 Mw according to USGS) hit Qingchuan, Sichuan, causing 1 death, 32 injuries, telecommunication interruptions, and widespread hill slides blocking roads in the area including a national highway.

Government data


Executive vice governor Wei Hong confirmed on November 21, 2008 that 19,065 identified schoolchildren died, and more than 90,000 people in total were dead or missing in the earthquake. He stated that 200,000 homes had been rebuilt, and 685,000 were under reconstruction, but 1.94 million households were still without permanent shelter. 1,300 schools had been reconstructed, with initial relocation of 25 townships, including Beichuan and Wenchuan, two of the most devastated areas. The government spent $441 billion dollars on relief and reconstruction efforts.

Rescue efforts


General Secretary
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China , officially General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, is the highest ranking official within the Communist Party of China, a standing member of the Politburo and head of the Secretariat...

 and President
President of the People's Republic of China
The President of the People's Republic of China is a ceremonial office and a part of State organs under the National People's Congress and it is the head of state of the People's Republic of China . The office was created by the 1982 Constitution...

 Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

 announced that the disaster response would be rapid. Just 90 minutes after the earthquake, Premier
Premier of the People's Republic of China
The Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China , sometimes also referred to as the "Prime Minister" informally, is the Leader of the State Council of the People's Republic of China , who is the head of government and holds the highest-ranking of the Civil service of the...

 Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao is the sixth and current Premier and Party secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, serving as China's head of government and leading its cabinet. In his capacity as Premier, Wen is regarded as the leading figure behind China's economic policy...

, who has an academic background in geomechanics
Geomechanics
Geomechanics is the geologic study of the behavior of soil and rock. The two main disciplines of geomechanics are soil mechanics and rock mechanics. The former deals with the behaviour of soil from a small scale to a landslide scale...

, flew to the earthquake area to oversee the rescue work. Soon afterward, China's Health Ministry said that it had sent ten emergency medical teams to Wenchuan County in southwest China's Sichuan Province. On the same day, China's Chengdu Military Area Command dispatched 50,000 troops and armed police to help with disaster relief work in Wenchuan County. However, due to the rough terrain and close proximity of the quake's epicenter, the soldiers found it very difficult to get help to the rural regions of the province.

The National Disaster Relief Commission initiated a "Level II emergency contingency plan", which covers the most serious class of natural disasters. The plan rose to Level I at 22:15 CST, May 12.

An earthquake emergency relief team of 184 people (consisting of 12 people from the State Seismological Bureau, 150 from the Beijing Military Area Command, and 22 from the Armed Police General Hospital) left Beijing from Nanyuan Airport late May 12 in two military transport planes to travel to Wenchuan County.

Many rescue teams, including that of the Taipei
Taipei
Taipei City is the capital of the Republic of China and the central city of the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan. Situated at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River, and is about 25 km southwest of Keelung, its port on the Pacific Ocean...

 Fire Department from Taiwan, were reported ready to join the rescue effort in Sichuan as early as Wednesday. However, the Red Cross Society of China
Red Cross Society of China
The Red Cross Society of China is the national Red Cross Society in the People's Republic of China.-Origins and history before 1949:...

 said that (on May 13) "it was inconvenient currently due to the traffic problem to the hardest hit areas closest to the epicenter." The Red Cross Society of China also stated that the disaster areas need tents, medical supplies, drinking water and food; however it recommended donating cash instead of other items, as it had not been possible to reach roads that were completely damaged or places that were blocked off by landslides. Landslides continuously threatened the progress of a search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 group of 80 men, each carrying about 40 kg of relief supplies, from a motorized infantry brigade under commander Yang Wenyao, as they tried to reach the ethnically Tibetan village of Sier at a height of 4000 m above sea level in Pingwu county. The extreme terrain conditions precluded the use of helicopter evacuation, and over 300 of the Tibetan villagers were stranded in their demolished village for five days without food and water before the rescue group finally arrived to help the injured and stranded villagers down the mountain.


Persistent heavy rain and landslides in Wenchuan County and the nearby area badly affected rescue efforts. At the start of rescue operations on May 12, 20 helicopters were deployed for the delivery of food, water, and emergency aid, and also the evacuation of the injured and reconnaissance of quake-stricken areas. By 17:37 CST on May 13, a total of over 15,600 troops and militia reservists from the Chengdu Military Region had joined the rescue force in the heavily affected areas. A commander reported from Yingxiu town, Wenchuan, that around 3,000 survivors were found, while the status of the other inhabitants (around 9,000) remained unclear. The 1,300 rescuers reached the epicenter, and 300 pioneer troops reached the main town of Wenchuan at about 23:30 CST. By 12:17 CST, May 14, 2008, communication in the major town of Wenchuan was partly revived. On the afternoon of May 14, 15 Special Operations Troops, along with relief supplies and communications gear, parachuted into inaccessible Maoxian County, northeast of Wenchuan.


By May 15, China's Premier Wen Jiabao ordered the deployment of an additional 90 helicopters, of which 60 were to be provided by the PLAAF
People's Liberation Army Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

, and 30 were to be provided by the civil aviation industry
Civil aviation
Civil aviation is one of two major categories of flying, representing all non-military aviation, both private and commercial. Most of the countries in the world are members of the International Civil Aviation Organization and work together to establish common standards and recommended practices...

, bringing the total of number of aircraft deployed in relief operations by the air force, army, and civil aviation to over 150, resulting in China's largest ever non-combat airlifting operation.

The Chinese Government accepted the aid of the Tzu Chi Foundation from Taiwan late on May 13. Tzu Chi was the first force from outside the People's Republic of China to join the rescue effort. China stated it would gratefully accept international help to cope with the quake.

A direct chartered cargo flight was made by China Airlines
China Airlines
China Airlines is both the flag carrier and the largest airline of Republic of China . Although not directly state-owned, the airline is owned by China Airlines Group, which is owned by the China Aviation Development Foundation...

 from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is a major airport serving Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province, China. It is located in the north of Shuangliu County, about southwest of downtown Chengdu....

 sending some 100 tons of relief supplies donated by the Tzu Chi Foundation and the Red Cross Society of Taiwan to the affected areas. Approval from the PRC Government was sought, and the chartered flight departed Taipei at 17:00 CST, May 15 and arrived in Chengdu by 20:30 CST. A rescue team from the ROC Red Cross was also scheduled to depart Taipei on a Mandarin Airlines
Mandarin Airlines
Mandarin Airlines, Limited is an airline based in Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan. The Republic of China-based airline is China Airlines' regional and domestic subsidiary. It also operates charter services...

 direct chartered flight to Chengdu at 15:00 CST on May 16.

Francis Marcus of the International Federation of the Red Cross praised China's rescue effort as "swift and very efficient" in Beijing on Tuesday. But he added the scale of the disaster was such that "we can't expect that the government can do everything and handle every aspect of the needs". The Economist noted that China reacted to the disaster "rapidly and with uncharacteristic openness", contrasting it with Burma's secretive response to Cyclone Nargis
Cyclone Nargis
Cyclone Nargis , was a strong tropical cyclone that caused the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of Burma. The cyclone made landfall in Burma on Friday, May 2, 2008, causing catastrophic destruction and at least 138,000 fatalities...

, which devastated that country 10 days before the earthquake.

On May 16, rescue groups from South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Russia and Taiwan arrived to join the rescue effort. The United States shared some of its satellite images
Satellite imagery
Satellite imagery consists of photographs of Earth or other planets made by means of artificial satellites.- History :The first images from space were taken on sub-orbital flights. The U.S-launched V-2 flight on October 24, 1946 took one image every 1.5 seconds...

 of the quake-stricken areas with Chinese authorities. During the weekend, the US sent into China two U.S. Air Force C-17's
C-17 Globemaster III
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft. Developed for the United States Air Force from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas, the C-17 is used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases throughout...

 carrying supplies, which included tents and generators. Xinhua reported 135,000 Chinese troops and medics were involved in the rescue effort across 58 counties and cities.

The Internet was extensively used for passing information to aid rescue and recovery in China. For example, the official news agency Xinhua set up an online rescue request center in order to find the blind spots of disaster recovery
Disaster recovery
Disaster recovery is the process, policies and procedures related to preparing for recovery or continuation of technology infrastructure critical to an organization after a natural or human-induced disaster. Disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity...

. After knowing that rescue helicopters had trouble landing into the epicenter area in Wenchuan, a student proposed a landing spot online and it was chosen as the first touchdown place for the helicopters. Volunteers also set up several websites to help store contact information for victims and evacuees. On May 31, a rescue helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

 carrying earthquake survivors and crew members crashed in fog
Fog
Fog is a collection of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term "fog" is typically distinguished from the more generic term "cloud" in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated...

 and turbulence
Turbulence
In fluid dynamics, turbulence or turbulent flow is a flow regime characterized by chaotic and stochastic property changes. This includes low momentum diffusion, high momentum convection, and rapid variation of pressure and velocity in space and time...

 in Wenchuan county. No-one survived.

Rescue efforts performed by the Chinese government were praised by the critical western media, especially in comparison with Myanmar's blockage of foreign aid during Cyclone Nargis
Cyclone Nargis
Cyclone Nargis , was a strong tropical cyclone that caused the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of Burma. The cyclone made landfall in Burma on Friday, May 2, 2008, causing catastrophic destruction and at least 138,000 fatalities...

, as well as China's previous performance during the 1976 Tangshan earthquake
1976 Tangshan earthquake
The Tangshan Earthquake also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on July 28, 1976. It is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Tangshan in Hebei, People's Republic of China, an...

. China's openness during the media covering of the Sichuan earthquake led a professor at the Peking University
Peking University
Peking University , colloquially known in Chinese as Beida , is a major research university located in Beijing, China, and a member of the C9 League. It is the first established modern national university of China. It was founded as Imperial University of Peking in 1898 as a replacement of the...

 to say, “This is the first time [that] the Chinese media has lived up to international standards”. Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

praised China's media coverage of the quake of being "democratic".

Rescue efforts also came from Jet Li
Jet Li
The fame gained by his sports winnings led to a career as a martial arts film star, beginning in mainland China and then continuing into Hong Kong. Li acquired his screen name in 1982 in the Philippines when a publicity company thought his real name was too hard to pronounce...

's One Foundation which saw the martial arts actor Wu Jing assisting in the efforts.

The "quake lakes"


As a result of the magnitude 7.9 earthquake and the many strong aftershocks, many rivers became blocked by large landslides, which resulted in the formation of "quake lakes" behind the blockages; these massive amounts of water were pooling up at a very high rate behind the natural landslide dam
Landslide dam
A landslide dam, debris dam, or barrier lake is a natural damming of a river by some kind of mass wasting: landslide, debris flow, rock avalanche or volcano. If it is caused by earthquake, it may also be called a quake lake. Some landslide dams are as high as the largest existing artificial dam...

s and it was feared that the blockages would eventually crumble under the weight of the ever-increasing water mass, potentially endangering the lives of millions of people living downstream. As of May 27, 2008, 34 lakes had formed due to earthquake debris blocking and damming rivers, and it was estimated that 28 of them were still of potential danger to the local people. Entire villages had to be evacuated because of the resultant flooding.

The most precarious of these quake-lakes was the one
Tangjiashan Lake
Tangjiashan Lake is a landslide dam-created lake on the Jian River, which was formed by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Its name comes from the nearby mountain Tangjiashan. On May 24, 2008 the water level rose by in a single day, reaching a depth of , just below the barrier level...

 located in the extremely difficult terrain at Tangjiashan
Mount Tangjia
Mount Tangjia is a mountain in Sichuan, People's Republic of China, 3.2 kilometres away from the county seat of Beichuan County.It overlooks the Jian River and Tangjiashan Lake, a landslide dam-created lake which was formed by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake....

 mountain, accessible only by foot or air; an Mi-26T
Mil Mi-26
The Mil Mi-26 is a Soviet/Russian heavy transport helicopter. In service with civilian and military operators, it is the largest and most powerful helicopter ever to have gone into production.-Design and development:...

 heavy lift helicopter belonging to the China Flying Dragon Special Aviation Company
China Flying Dragon Aviation
China Flying Dragon Aviation is an airline based in Harbin, Heilongjiang, People's Republic of China. It operates short-haul passenger and cargo charter flights, as well as maritime surveillance, aerial photography and forestry protection services. Its main base is Harbin Taiping International...

 was used to bring heavy earthmoving tractors to the affected location. This operation was coupled with the work done by PLAAF
People's Liberation Army Air Force
The People's Liberation Army Air Force is the aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army, the military of the People's Republic of China...

 Mi-17
MI-17
MI-17 can refer to:* Mil Mi-17, Soviet helicopter*M-17...

 helicopters bringing in PLA
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 engineering corps, explosive specialists and other personnel to join 1,200 soldiers who arrived on site by foot. Five tons of fuel to operate the machinery was airlifted to the site, where a sluice
Sluice
A sluice is a water channel that is controlled at its head by a gate . For example, a millrace is a sluice that channels water toward a water mill...

 was constructed to allow the safe discharge of the bottlenecked water. Downstream, more than 200,000 people were evacuated from Mianyang
Mianyang
Mianyang is the second largest prefecture-level city of Sichuan province in Southwest China. Its administrative area includes the city proper of Mianyang, with 985,586 inhabitants in the built up area , the county-level city of Jiangyou, and six counties, covering an area of over and a population...

 by June 1 in anticipation of the dam bursting.

Reactions within China




The State Council
State Council of the People's Republic of China
The State Council of the People's Republic of China , which is largely synonymous with the Central People's Government after 1954, is the chief administrative authority of the People's Republic of China. It is chaired by the Premier and includes the heads of each governmental department and agency...

 declared a three-day period of national mourning for the quake victims starting from May 19, 2008; the PRC's National Flag and Regional Flags of Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR were raised at half mast. It is the first time that a national mourning period had been declared for something other than the death of a state leader, and many have called it the biggest display of mourning since the death of Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

. At 14:28 CST on May 19, 2008, a week after the earthquake, the Chinese public held a moment of silence
Moment of silence
A moment of silence is the expression for a period of silent contemplation, prayer, reflection, or meditation. Similar to flying a flag at half-mast, a moment of silence is often a gesture of respect, particularly in mourning for those who have recently died or as part of a commemoration ceremony...

. People stood silent for three minutes while air defense, police and fire sirens, and the horns of vehicles, vessels and trains sounded. Cars on Beijing's roads came to a halt. People spontaneously burst into cheering "China jiayou
Jiayou
Jiayou is a Chinese figure of speech or idiom, meaning "be stronger!"jiā means "to add", and yóu means oil or fuel. Therefore jiayou literally means "add oil" or "add fuel", as in refuelling a motor vehicle; by anology jiayou is used to encourage someone to put more effort into a certain...

" and "Sichuan jiayou" afterwards.

The Ningbo
Ningbo
Ningbo is a seaport city of northeastern Zhejiang province, Eastern China. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, the municipality has a population of 7,605,700 inhabitants at the 2010 census whom 3,089,180 in the built up area made of 6 urban districts. It lies south of the Hangzhou Bay,...

 Organizing Committee of the Beijing Olympic torch relay
2008 Summer Olympics torch relay
The 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay was run from March 24 until August 8, 2008, prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics, with the theme of "one world, one dream". Plans for the relay were announced on April 26, 2007, in Beijing, China...

 announced that the relay would be suspended for the duration of the mourning period.

Immediately after the earthquake event, mobile and terrestrial telecommunications were cut to the affected and surrounding area, with all internet capabilities cut to the Sichuan area too. Elements of telecommunications were restored by the government piece by piece over the next number of months as the situation in the Sichuan province gradually improved. Eventually, a handful of major news and media websites were made accessible online in the region, albeit with dramatically pared back webpages. Many websites converted their front page to black and white; Sina.com
Sina.com
SINA is an online media company for China and Chinese communities around the world. SINA operates four major business lines: Sina Weibo, SINA Mobile, SINA Online, and SINA.net. SINA has over 100 million registered users worldwide...

 and Sohu
Sohu
Sohu.com, Inc. is a search engine company headquartered in the Sohu.com Internet Plaza in Haidian District, Beijing, People’s Republic of China. This company and its subsidiaries offer advertising, a search engine, on-line multiplayer gaming and other services. For the fiscal year ended December...

, major internet portals, limited their homepages to news items and removed all advertisements. Chinese video sharing websites youku and Tudou displayed a black background and only videos related to the earthquake were available on the homepage. The Chinese version of MSN
MSN
MSN is a collection of Internet sites and services provided by Microsoft. The Microsoft Network debuted as an online service and Internet service provider on August 24, 1995, to coincide with the release of the Windows 95 operating system.The range of services offered by MSN has changed since its...

, cn.msn.com, also displayed banners about the earthquake and the relief efforts. Other entertainment websites, including various gaming sites, were also blacked out, or had corresponding links to earthquake donations. After the moments of silence, in Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is a large city square in the center of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen Gate located to its North, separating it from the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world...

, crowds spontaneously burst out cheering various slogans, including "Long Live China". Casinos in Macau closed down, and servers for online computer games (such as World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994...

) were shut down.

All Mainland Chinese television stations, along with some Hong Kong stations, displayed their logo in grayscale, while broadcasting non-stop earthquake footage from CCTV-1. Even pay television channels, such as Channel V China, showed earthquake footage. Foreign broadcasts in expatriate communities were suspended for the days of mourning.

The Sichuan earthquake also proved to be a rather sensitive issue in terms of nationalistic fervor
Chinese nationalism
Chinese nationalism , sometimes synonymous with Chinese patriotism refers to cultural, historiographical, and political theories, movements and beliefs that assert the idea of a cohesive, unified Chinese people and culture in a unified country known as China...

 in China.

On the evening of May 18, CCTV-1
CCTV-1
CCTV-1 is the primary channel of the Chinese television network, CCTV in the People's Republic of China. It has a mixture of all kinds of TV programs, and is available to both cable and terrestrial television viewers.-External links:*...

 hosted a special four-hour program called The Giving of Love , hosted by regulars from the CCTV New Year's Gala
CCTV New Year's Gala
The CCTV New Year's Gala is a Chinese New Year special produced by China Central Television. Broadcast on the eve of Chinese New Year on its flagship CCTV-1, satellite channels CCTV-4, CCTV-9, CCTV-E, CCTV-F, and CCTV-HD, the broadcast has a yearly viewership of over 700 million viewers, making it...

 and continual coverage anchor Bai Yansong
Bai Yansong
Bai Yansong is a prominent Chinese news anchor and journalist affiliated with China Central Television, China's national television network, and is known for his articulate and confident style. He was born in Inner Mongolia, China and is an ethnic Mongol. Bai was one of CCTV's major news anchors...

, and attended by a wide range of entertainment, literary, business and political figures from mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Donations of the evening totalled 1.5 billion Chinese Yuan
Chinese yuan
The yuan is the base unit of a number of modern Chinese currencies. The yuan is the primary unit of account of the Renminbi.A yuán is also known colloquially as a kuài . One yuán is divided into 10 jiǎo or colloquially máo...

 (US$208 million). Of the donations, CCTV gave the biggest corporate contribution at Y50 million. Almost at the same time in Taiwan, a similarly themed programme was on air hosted by the sitting president Ma Ying-jeou
Ma Ying-jeou
Ma Ying-jeou is the 12th term and current President of the Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan, and the Chairman of the Kuomintang Party, also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party. He formerly served as Justice Minister from 1993 to 1996, Mayor of Taipei from 1998 to 2006, and Chairman...

.

On May 24, Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan, SBS, MBE is a Hong Kong actor, action choreographer, comedian, director, producer, martial artist, screenwriter, entrepreneur, singer and stunt performer. In his movies, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts...

, who donated $1.57 million to the victims, announced that he wished to produce a film about the earthquake.

Collapse of "tofu-dregs schoolhouses"




Although the Chinese government was initially praised for its response to the quake (especially in comparison to Myanmar's ruling military junta's blockade of aid during Cyclone Nargis
Cyclone Nargis
Cyclone Nargis , was a strong tropical cyclone that caused the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of Burma. The cyclone made landfall in Burma on Friday, May 2, 2008, causing catastrophic destruction and at least 138,000 fatalities...

), it then saw an erosion in confidence over the school construction scandal.

The central government estimates that over 7,000 inadequately engineered
Earthquake engineering
Earthquake engineering is the scientific field concerned with protecting society, the natural and the man-made environment from earthquakes by limiting the seismic risk to socio-economically acceptable levels...

 schoolrooms collapsed in the earthquake. Chinese citizens have since invented a catch phrase: "tofu-dregs schoolhouses" , to mock both the quality and the quantity of these inferior constructions that killed so many school children. Due to China's one-child policy
One-child policy
The one-child policy refers to the one-child limitation applying to a minority of families in the population control policy of the People's Republic of China . The Chinese government refers to it under the official translation of family planning policy...

, many families lost their only child when schools in the region collapsed during the earthquake. Consequently, local officials in Sichuan province have lifted the restriction for families whose only child was either killed or severely injured in the disaster. So-called "illegal children" under 18 years of age may be registered as legal replacements for their dead siblings; if the dead child was illegal, no further outstanding fines would apply. Reimbursement would not, however, be offered for fines that were already levied.

On May 29, 2008, government officials began inspecting the ruins of thousands of schools that collapsed, searching for clues about why they crumbled. Thousands of parents around the province have accused local officials and builders of cutting corners in school construction, citing that after the quake other nearby buildings were little damaged. In the aftermath of the quake, many local governments promised to formally investigate the school collapses, but as of July 17, 2008 across Sichuan, parents of children lost in collapsed schools complained they had yet to receive any reports. Local officials urged them not to protest but the parents demonstrated and demanded an investigation. Furthermore, censors discouraged stories of poorly built schools from being published in the media and there was an incident where police drove the protestors away.

In the China Digital Times
China Digital Times
China Digital Times is a bilingual "collaborative news website covering China’s social and political transition and its emerging role in the world," according to the site's About page...

, a US-based news reporting group that is critical of the Chinese government, an article reports a close analysis by an alleged Chinese construction engineer known online as “Book Blade” (书剑子), who stated:

"...because of our nation’s particular brand of education, our children are fed 20 years of Marxist philosophy with Chinese characteristics—a philosophy that has nothing to say about saving lives…School construction is the worst. First, there’s not enough capital. Schools in poor areas have small budgets and, unlike schools in the cities, they can’t collect huge fees, so they’re pressed for money. With construction, add in exploitation by government officials, education officials, school managers, etc. and you can imagine what’s left over for the actual building of schools. When earthquake prevention standards are raised, government departments, major businesses, etc. will all appraise and reinforce their buildings. But these schools with their 70s-era buildings, no-one pays attention to them. Because of this, the older school buildings are suffer from inadequate protection while the new buildings have been shoddily constructed."

On Children's Day
Children's Day
"Children Day", as an event, is celebrated on various days in many places around the world, in particular to honor children. Major global variants include a Universal Children's Day on November 20, by United Nations recommendation...

, June 1, 2008, many parents went to the rubble of schools to mourn for their children. The surviving children, who were mostly living in refugee camps, performed ceremonies marking the special day, but also acknowledging the earthquake.

Ye Zhiping
Ye Zhiping
Ye Zhiping is the principal of Sangzao Middle School in An County, Sichuan, People's Republic of China, noteworthy for saving thousands of his students....

, the principal of Sangzao Middle School in Sangzao, one of the largest in An County
An County
An County is a county in Mianyang, Sichuan, China.It has an area of 1,404 square kilometers and a population of 500,000.-Administrative divisions:An County has 17 towns and 3 townships.*Towns:**Anchang...

, has been credited with proactive action that spared the lives of all 2,323 pupils in attendance when the earthquake happened. During a three-year period that ended in 2007, he oversaw a major overhaul of his school. During that time he obtained more than 400,000 yuan (US$60,000) from the county education department, money used to widen and strengthen concrete pillars and the balcony railing of all four storeys of his school, as well as secure its concrete floors.

The AP
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 reported that "The entire state-controlled media have almost completely ignored the issue, apparently under the instructions of the propaganda, parents and volunteers helping them who have questioned authorities about the issue have been rounded up, detained, and threatened."

However, Reuters
Reuters
Reuters is a news agency headquartered in New York City. Until 2008 the Reuters news agency formed part of a British independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data...

 reported in June that, to date, Chinese prosecutors have joined an official inquiry into ten collapsed schools during May's devastating earthquake to gain first-hand material of construction quality at the collapsed schools, launch preliminary inquiries and prepare for possible investigations into professional crime. It was also reported that safety checks were to be carried out at schools across China after last month's earthquake.

The New York Times reported that "government officials in Beijing and Sichuan have said they are investigating the collapses. In an acknowledgment of the weakness of building codes in the countryside, the National Development and Reform Commission said on May 27 that it had drafted an amendment to improve construction standards for primary and middle schools in rural areas. Experts are reviewing the draft, the commission said." To limit protests, officials pushed parents to sign a document, which forbade them from holding protests, in exchange of money, but some who refused to sign were threatened. The payment amounts varied from school to school but were approximately the same. In Hanwang, parents were offered a package valued at 8,800 USD in cash and a per-parent pension of nearly 5,600 USD. Furthermore, officials used other methods of silencing: riot police officers broke up protests by parents; the authorities set up cordons around the schools; and officials ordered the Chinese news media to stop reporting on school collapses.

Besides parents, Liu Shaokun (刘绍坤), a Sichuan school teacher, was detained on June 25, 2008 for "disseminating rumors and destroying social order" about the Sichuan Earthquake. Liu’s family was later told that he was being investigated on suspicion of the crime of inciting subversion. Liu had travelled to the Shifang (什邡) area, taken photos of collapsed school buildings, and put them online. He had also expressed his anger at “the shoddy tofu-dregs buildings”(豆腐渣工程) in a media interview. He was ordered to serve one year of re-education through labor (劳动教养) (RTL). According to the organization Human Rights in China, Liu has been released to serve his RTL sentence outside of the labor camp.

On May 15, 2008 Geoffery York of the Globeandmail.com reported that the shoddily constructed buildings are commonly called "tofu buildings" because builders cut corners by replacing steel rods with thin iron wires for concrete re-inforcement; using inferior grade cement, if any at all; and using fewer bricks than they should. One local was quoted in the article as saying that "the supervising agencies did not check to see if it met the national standards."

In January 2010, Hong Kong-based English newspaper The Standard
The Standard
The Standard is an English free newspaper of Hong Kong with a daily circulation of 231,018. It was called the Hong Kong Standard and changed to HKiMail during the Internet boom, but it changed back to The Standard in 2001....

 reported that writer Tan Zuoren
Tan Zuoren
Tan Zuoren , from Chengdu, Sichuan province, People's Republic of China, is an environmentalist, writer and former editor of Literati magazine .On February 9, 2010...

 attempted to document shoddy construction that may have led to massive casualties in schools, was sentenced to in prison ostensibly for his writing an article in 2007 in support of the pro-democracy movement in 1989.

Foreign and domestic aid


Because of the magnitude of the quake, and the media attention on China, foreign nations and organizations immediately responded to the disaster by offering condolences and assistance. On May 14, UNICEF reported that China formally requested the support of the international community to respond to the needs of affected families.

Mainland China


By May 14, the Ministry of Civil Affairs stated that 10.7 billion yuan (approximately US$1.5 billion) had been donated by the Chinese public. Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. The team plays in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association . The team was established in 1967, and played in San Diego, California for four years, before being...

 center
Center (basketball)
The center, colloquially known as the five or the post, is one of the standard positions in a regulation basketball game. The center is normally the tallest player on the team, and often has a great deal of strength and body mass as well...

 Yao Ming
Yao Ming
Yao Ming is a retired Chinese professional basketball player who last played for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association...

, one of the country's most popular sports icons, gave $214,000 and $71,000 to the Red Cross Society of China
Red Cross Society of China
The Red Cross Society of China is the national Red Cross Society in the People's Republic of China.-Origins and history before 1949:...

. The association has also collected a total of $26 million in donations so far. Other multinational firms located in China have also announced large amounts of donations.

The Red Cross Society of China
Red Cross Society of China
The Red Cross Society of China is the national Red Cross Society in the People's Republic of China.-Origins and history before 1949:...

 flew 557 tents and 2,500 quilts valued at 788,000 yuan
Renminbi
The Renminbi is the official currency of the People's Republic of China . Renminbi is legal tender in mainland China, but not in Hong Kong or Macau. It is issued by the People's Bank of China, the monetary authority of the PRC...

 (US$113,000) to Wenchuan County. The Amity Foundation already began relief work in the region and has earmarked US$143,000 for disaster relief. The Sichuan Ministry of Civil Affairs said that they have provided 30,000 tents for those left homeless.

On May 15, United Daily News
United Daily News
The United Daily News is a newspaper published in the Republic of China in both Traditional and Simplified Chinese. It is one of the three biggest newspapers in Taiwan, the other two being the China Times and the Liberty Times.-History:...

reported that the top ten richest people in mainland China had donated a little over 32.5 million yuan (US$4.6 million) altogether as of May 13, drawing accusations of selfishness and callousness from Chinese internet users.

Following the earthquake, donations were made by people from all over mainland China, with booths set up in schools, at banks, and around gas stations. People also donated blood, resulting in according to Xinhua long line-ups in most major Chinese cities. Many donated through text messaging on mobile phones to accounts set up by China Unicom
China Unicom
China Unicom or China United Netcom Ltd , is a Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator in the People's Republic of China.-History:...

 and China Mobile
China Mobile
China Mobile Limited is a Chinese state-owned telecommunication company that provides mobile voice and multimedia services through its nationwide mobile telecommunications network, the largest of its kind in the world...

 By May 16, the Chinese government had allocated a total of $772 million for earthquake relief so far, up sharply from $159 million from May 14. On May 16 China stated it had also received $457 million in donated money and goods for rescue efforts so far, including $83 million from 19 countries and four international organizations. Saudi Arabia was the largest aid donor to China, providing close to € 40,000,000 in financial assistance, and an additional € 8,000,000 worth of relief materials.

First anniversary


On May 12, 2009, China marked the first anniversary of the quake with a moment of silence
Moment of silence
A moment of silence is the expression for a period of silent contemplation, prayer, reflection, or meditation. Similar to flying a flag at half-mast, a moment of silence is often a gesture of respect, particularly in mourning for those who have recently died or as part of a commemoration ceremony...

 as people across the nation remembered the dead. The government also opened access to the sealed ruins of the Beichuan county seat for three days, after which it will be frozen in time as a state earthquake relic museum, to remind people of the terrible disaster. There were also several concerts across the country to raise money for the survivors of the quake.

However questions still remain, as some of the corrupt government officials have still not been brought to justice, while the many families who lost their only child, are still seeking compensation and justice to what had happened. According to the Times, many parents were warned by the government not to stage a protest under the threat of arrest.

Predictions, precursors, and postmortems


The earthquake was the worst to strike the Sichuan district in over 30 years. In 2002, Chinese geologist Chen Xuezhong published a Seismic Risk Analysis study in which he came to the conclusion that beginning with 2003, attention should be paid to the possibility of an earthquake of M ≥ 7.0 occurring in Sichuan Province based on statistical correlation study. Several other warnings were also published, though not as specific.

In a press conference held by the State Council Information Office the day after the earthquake,
geologist Zhang Xiaodong, deputy director of CEA's Seismic Monitoring Network Center, restated that earthquake prediction
Earthquake prediction
An earthquake prediction is a prediction that an earthquake of a specific magnitude will occur in a particular place at a particular time . Despite considerable research efforts by seismologists, scientifically reproducible predictions cannot yet be made to a specific day or month...

 was a "world problem", and that no prediction notification was received before the earthquake.

Seismologist Gary Gibson from the ES&S Seismology Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia told Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH is a news agency founded in 1949 in Germany. Based in Hamburg, it has grown to be a major worldwide operation serving print media, radio, television, online, mobile phones, and national news agencies. News is available in German, English, Spanish, and Arabic.The DPA...

 that "I had nothing unusual at all that you would regard as precursory."

The earthquake also provided opportunities for researchers to retrofit data in order to model future earthquake predictions. Using data from the Intermagnet
Intermagnet
Intermagnet is a global network of observatories, monitoring the Earth's magnetic field.- Participating Countries :Intermagnet now has Geomagnetic Information Nodes in 5 continents....

 Lanzhou (LZH) geomagnetic observatory, geologists Lazo Pekevski from University Saints Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, Macedonia and Strachimir Cht. Mavrodiev from the Bulgarian Academy of Science showed the possibility to predict the time of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake ±1 day.

An article in Science
Science (journal)
Science is the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is one of the world's top scientific journals....

 suggested that the construction and filling of the Zipingpu Dam may have triggered the earthquake. The chief engineer of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau said that the sudden shift of a huge quantity of water into the region could have relaxed the tension between the two sides of the fault, allowing them to move apart, and could have increased the direct pressure on it, causing a violent rupture. The effect was "25 times more" than a year's worth of natural stress from tectonic movement. The government had disregarded warnings about so many large-scale dam projects in a seismically active area. Researchers have been denied access to seismological and geological data to examine the cause of the quake further.

Some scientists have linked the earthquake to the pressure exerted by the Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in the Yiling District of Yichang, in Hubei province, China...

, although this is disputed.

The controversial role of Geng Qingguo


Shortly after the earthquake, claims and debates about pre-existing short-term predictions started to surface in blogs in China and other places, although most have subsequently been removed from sites in mainland China.
  • Sina.com
    Sina.com
    SINA is an online media company for China and Chinese communities around the world. SINA operates four major business lines: Sina Weibo, SINA Mobile, SINA Online, and SINA.net. SINA has over 100 million registered users worldwide...

     posted on May 13, 2008, claiming that during a meeting on April 26, 2008, Chinese geologist Geng Qingguo , who was also said to have predicted the 1976 Tangshan earthquake
    1976 Tangshan earthquake
    The Tangshan Earthquake also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on July 28, 1976. It is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Tangshan in Hebei, People's Republic of China, an...

    , predicted a 7+ magnitude earthquake to strike Ngawa Prefecture
    Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture
    The Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture is an autonomous prefecture in Sichuan, whose capital is Barkam town . It has an area of 83,201 km²....

    , Sichuan on May 8, 2008, ±10 days, and that this prediction was dismissed by mainstream seismologists, as was his 2006 prediction of a severe earthquake in the area.

The story could be found on some mainstream websites as late as September, 2008.
  • During an interview shown on Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television
    Phoenix Television
    Phoenix Satellite Television Holdings Ltd or Phoenix Television is a Hong Kong-based Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese television broadcaster that serves the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong along with other markets with substantial Chinese viewers...

    , Geng Qingguo told a reporter that he had written a confidential letter to the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, detailing his prediction of the approaching Sichuan earthquake, and the letter was sent by personal courier to the State Council
    State Council of the People's Republic of China
    The State Council of the People's Republic of China , which is largely synonymous with the Central People's Government after 1954, is the chief administrative authority of the People's Republic of China. It is chaired by the Premier and includes the heads of each governmental department and agency...

    , to Wen's office.

  • Yazhou Zhoukan
    Yazhou Zhoukan
    Yazhou Zhoukan , literally as "Asia Weekly", is the only Chinese language international affairs newsweekly which has been published for over 20 years...

    reporter Jiang Xun published a featured article, detailing the interview with former researcher at the China Seismological Bureau, Institute of Geophysics, natural disaster prediction expert Geng Qingguo, in which Geng claimed that a confidential written report was sent to the State Seismological Bureau on April 30, 2008.

On the morning of May 15, a YZZK reporter telephoned the China Earthquake Administration's Chen Jianmin , requesting the Office of the Secretary and asking for information regarding the alleged letter from Geng Qingguo. The China Earthquake Administration never responded satisfactorily.

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