May 12

Major earthquake centered in Tibetan autonomous area

Written by Buxi on Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 3:52 pm
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A devastating earthquake has struck western Sichuan province. Early press reports are available here, and here; video from CCTV is here (Internet Explorer required). The earthquake’s epicenter is in Wenchuang county, which is part of the larger Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture.

The earthquake occurred at a very shallow depth, which accounts for the heavy damage, as well as people fleeing from swaying buildings in distant cities like Taipei, Shanghai, and Bangkok. To give some context for this scale: Chengdu’s distance from Shanghai is roughly similar to the distance of New York from Florida, Winnipeg from Quebec, Belfast from Rome.

Most of the damage and deaths appear to be located in Wenchuan county. Wenchung county is in the southern part of Aba (also known as Ngawa) prefecture. Wenchuan county has a population that is 46% Han, 34% Qiang, and 18% Tibetan. For Aba prefecture as a whole, 54% of the population is Tibetan, and 25% are Han. There were significant violent riots in Aba prefecture in March.

Premier Wen Jiabao is already on the ground in Sichuan province, and will direct the rescue operation personally. Road access has reportedly been cut off to the mountainous areas where the epicenter of the quake is; we won’t know full story for days.

UPDATE: Death count has crossed the 8000 boundary, and likely to climb higher. For those able to help, instructions for making donations to the Chinese Red Cross are listed below.

Hong Kong Red Cross, (please select ‘China relief and development’)

China Red Cross,

For those who want to donate in foreign currency, you can also send money to the foreign currency account at the CITIC Bank branch below:
外币账号: 7112111482600000209

– Jet Li’s “One” Foundation (accepts credit cards via Paypal).

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10 Responses to “Major earthquake centered in Tibetan autonomous area”

  1. sunbin Says:

    10km underground, not too shallow.

  2. CLC Says:

    Death toll rises above 8,500, expected to go higher. Very sad.

    @sunbin, earthquakes between 0-70km are considered shallow. see http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learning/topics/seismology/determining_depth.php

  3. Buxi Says:

    It is still night time in Sichuan, although the dawn is expected soon.

    The entire area has been soaked in very heavy rain all night; helicopters have not been able to fly in.

    Some PLA rushing into the area have not been able to bring their vehicles because of constant road-slides. They are running as fast as they can into the mountain regions. They’ve discarded all of their gear, and are carrying only shovels, sledge-hammers, and basic medical equipment. They’ve traveled 30 km over the past 4 hours.

  4. CLC Says:

    Some people just have to drag Buddha into this.


  5. snow Says:

    Melinda Liu at blogging for newsweek, http://www.blog.newsweek.com/blogs/beijing/archive/2008/05/12/when-the-earth-moves.aspx, is another insisitively heartless journalist whose pondering over the “divine intervention” of the devastating disaster at the very moment when people are still dying, when many more are graving and trying to help, shocked me!

  6. yun Says:

    This is such a tragedy. I am deeply saddened by this. I can’t even begin to imagine the anguish of all the parents weeping for their children.

    The PLA are truly China’s heroes. They are the most courageous and selfless army, a real people’s army.

    In my own small way of saying I am with the suffering people, I am ready to contribute to any legit overseas rescue, relief fund.

  7. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    very very sad. my heart is with the victims and their families

    the local government responded immediately.
    see the story from a Aussie guy who was in ChengDu airport when the quake happened

  8. Bing Ma Yong Says:

    China Red Cross site seems to be down

  9. Andreth Says:

    You can now donate toward the earthquake relief efforts through the Canadian Red Cross:

    Or the Hong Kong Red Cross:

  10. Buxi Says:

    Many in the entertainment world have donated. On the larger side, I’ve seen:

    – Yao Ming has donated about $80k USD to the cause, so far.
    – Jay Chou has donated about $160k USD.
    – Jackie Chan has donated about $1.6 million USD.

    Many, many other stars have donated in the $10k-$20k range. Taiwan’s president Ma Yingjiu has donated about $8k of his own money, as well.

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