Earthquake China – Update 2

A powerful earthquake toppled buildings, schools and a chemical plant Monday in central China, killing nearly 10,000 people and trapping untold numbers in mounds of concrete, steel and earth in the worst quake in three decades.

Although initially measured at 7.8 magnitude, the U.S. Geological Survey later revised its assessment of the quake to 7.9. Its depth — about six miles below the surface, according to the USGS — gave the tremor such wide impact, geologists said.

The 7.9-magnitude quake devastated a region of small cities and towns set amid steep hills north of Sichuan’s provincial capital of Chengdu. Striking in mid-afternoon, it emptied office buildings across the country in Beijing and could be felt as far away as Vietnam.

Snippets from the state-run Xinhua News Agency and photos posted on the Internet underscored the immense scale of the devastation. In the town of Juyuan, south of the epicenter, a three-story high school collapsed, burying as many as 900 students and killing at least 50, Xinhua said. Photos showed people using cranes, mechanical hoists and their hands to remove slabs of concrete and steel. As many as 2,300 people were still buried under rubble, Xinhua said.

Rescuers search the rubble of the collapsed Juyuan middle school:

Teenagers struggled to break free from the rubble, “while others were crying out for help,”  Xinhua said. Families waited in the rain near the wreckage as rescuers wrote the names of the dead on a blackboard, the news agency reported.

Parents of the dead students built makeshift religious altars at the site, resting the corpses on any available piece of plywood or cardboard, and burning paper money and incense in a traditional honor for their child in the afterlife, according to NPR’s Melissa Block.

In Beichuan county, northeast of the epicenter, 80 percent of the buildings fell, and 10,000 people were injured, Xinhua said.

About 600 people died in Shifang city, which was the site of a major chemical leak. The Xinhua report did not say whether people were killed by the quake or the chemical leak.

In Chengdu, it crashed telephone networks and hours later left parts of the city of 10 million in darkness.

Xinhua reported 8,533 people died in Sichuan alone and 216 others in three other provinces and the mega-city of Chongqing.

Tremors were so strong that even houses located several hundred kilometers from the epicenter, collapsed.


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2 Responses

  1. This is so bad! I hate earthquakes!


  2. Home says : I absolutely agree with this !

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