Large earthquake hits central China

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Shake map showing area affected.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) a magnitude 7.92 earthquake has struck eastern Sichuan Province in China. The USGS first reported the quake to be a magnitude 7.8 which hit at 6:28:00 UTC. Officials say that at least 10,000 may have been killed and local reports indicate over 10,000 injured.

At least 107 people, some of them school children, were killed when two schools collapsed. It is reported that 900 students remain trapped in the rubble. Two people were killed after a water tower fell over. According to the USGS, damage is expected to be "very heavy" and that "some reports of damage have been received. Felt widely throughout China." Officials now fear landslides and mudslides.

Map showing the impact area of the quake and its epicentre.

"The epicenter of today's quake was shallow, which means it released more destructive energy. We have to guard against mudslides and collapsing buildings," said China Seismology Bureau scientist, Zhang Guomin.

The quake's epicenter was located in the Aba prefecture, 90 kilometers (55 miles) west, northwest of Chengdu, Sichuan, China and was recorded at a depth of 10 k.m. (6.2 miles). At least 11,000 people reside in the area, and because of poor communications due to the quake, the total extent of the damage is not known.

Several counties have been hit hard, including Beichuan, in which 80% of the buildings have been reported to have collapsed. Deaths from this area have not been accurately accounted for yet. In another county, already 3,000-5,000 are reported to have died, with a further 10,000 injured.

The quake could be felt as far away as Bangkok, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Shanghai and Beijing. At least 13 large aftershocks with a magnitude ranging from 4.9 to 6.0 have been recorded.

This is the largest earthquake to strike the region in almost 60 years. The deadliest quake in China's history was of magnitude 7.8, striking Tangshan in 1976. Approximately 250,000 people were killed.


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