Monday, May 12, 2008

Major Earthquake Strikes Central China

A major earthquake struck central China earlier today, with a magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale. Early reports are suggesting widespread damage and telecommunications systems were hit hard as phone lines were down due to volume of calls trying to find out about loved ones and power outages.

Some reports indicate that 3,000 to 5,000 Chinese were killed in the quake, but it's still too early to say what the ultimate toll will be.
The epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake was in Sichuan, striking 57 miles northwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu at 2.28pm.

Nearly 900 students in Sichuan province, state media reported.

Xinhua News Agency did not immediately give any other details or say if any of the students were thought to be alive.

At least 107 people are confirmed dead after the earthquake struck.
The shaking was felt as far away as Hanoi, Beijing, and Bangkok. MSNBC is reporting that Chinese authorities says quake topples 80 percent of buildings in one county. That suggests a very significant mass casualty event.

The epicenter is several hundred miles West of the Three Gorges Dam project. China is geologically active, and has experienced numerous devastating quakes in the past. The last major quake to hit China was in 2003.

The last quake of this magnitude to strike China was in 1976 in Tangshan. More than 250,000 perished in that quake, though some estimates put the toll at double that.

3,000 to 5,000 killed in one Chinese county alone. Factories have been destroyed, as have hospitals.
An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people were killed in Beichuan county of mountainous Sichuan province alone after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region during the early afternoon on Monday, Xinhua news agency said, citing the local government.

Beichuan’s population is 161,000, meaning about one in 10 residents were killed or injured in the quake. The county is a part of Mianyang city, and about 100 miles from the provincial capital, Chengdu.

The death toll was expected to rise sharply as authorities and rescue teams made contact with the worst-hit areas of Sichuan, where phone lines have been cut off since the quake struck.

It is now night in the affected area, hampering rescue efforts.
The death toll continues climbing, and it will continue rising as more areas are reached by emergency personnel. It's now more than 8,500.

The death toll continues rising, and now you've got reporters trying to get angles on the story. This is one angle that simply doesn't fly - trying to blame natural disasters on global warming. It's one thing to try and make that assertion with respect to hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons (the same phenomenon, but called different names based on their geographical incidence), but it's quite another when remarking on earthquakes that have no relation to global climate.
Could some of these events be linked to drastic environmental changes due to global warming, or is the devastation just a coincidental downward trend? What do you think?
The fact is that natural disasters are random and occur without a timetable. Some kinds of disasters will be more devastating because more people are living along coastlines where they're susceptible to tsunami or hurricanes, but considering that the global temperatures have been flat for the last decade, one has to wonder when the global warming myth finally gives way to fact that the planet's climate is affected by factors far in excess of what man has (and can or will) do.

The toll continues rising, and additional problems and difficulties are being reported, including ammonia gas leaks at factories flattened by the quake, collapsed schools and hospitals, and landslides that have cut rail access to the region.

This map gives you some idea of where and how people were affected by the most intense shaking.

The death toll is sure to climb above 10,000 as people from more remote areas regain contact.

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