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Case study: Sichuan 2008
Where did it happen?China is foundlocated in eastern Asia. The
province of Sichuan is found in the south west of the country on the
destructive boundary between the Indo-Australian plate and the
Eurasian plate. The earthquake occurred on the Longmenshan fault
What happened?On May 12th 2008, at2:30pm an earthquake measuring magnitude 7.9 on the Richter
scale struck Wenchuan county, Sichuan. The epicenter was 80 kilometres west-northwest of Chengdu,
the provincial capital, with a focal depth of 19 km. The earthquake was also felt in nearby countries
and as far away as both Beijing and Shanghai. Tremors lasted for 2 minutes.
A cargo train carrying 13 petrol tanks
derailed in Hui County, Gansu, and
caught on fire after the rail was
391 dams were damaged by the
69,197 people were killed.
374,176 injured, with
18,222 listed as missing
4.8 million people homeless although
it could be as high as 11 million.
100 schools collapsed killing 10,000
Oil prices dropped over speculation
that the demand from china would
Cost $191 million
In Shifang, chemical plants collapsed
killing hundreds and releasing toxic
Communications such as telephones
were cut off.
6 pandas escaped from their
enclosures at the Wolong National
Nature Reserve after they were
damaged, 2 pandas were injured, one
panda was found dead.
Rivers were blocked by landslides
forming ‘quake lakes’ 34 lakes were
formed in total. Risk of flooding
when the dams collapsed.
20 helicopters were assigned to rescue
and relief efforts immediately after the
Troops parachuted in to help
Thousands of army men deployed
Calls made to increase the number of
Long term responses
China requested help from Japan, Russia
and Korea helped
The redcross donated food and medicine
1 million temporary homes built
The Chinese government pledged a
$10million rebuilding fund
Banks wrote of debts of survivors who
did not have insurance.
How well was the hazard managed?The area was not prepared for an earthquake. There is no fixed
evacuation spots and there is not a regular earthquake drill. This is mainly because such a large
earthquake was not expected in that region. Many buildings collapsed because they were poorly
constructed, meaning that they were not earthquake proof. The country is highly corrupt which means
that any regulations on buildings put in place could have been bypassed in order to make cheap
Why did so many schools collapse? School buildings are supposed to conform to building standards
which are much higher than normal residential buildings. This is to protect children from collapsing
buildings. However, the collapse of many school buildings shows that the standards have not been
met. This has led to the earthquake proof nature of other school buildings to be assessed.