Great Sichuan Earthquake
Sichuan earthquake occurred on April 20, 2013, at 8 a.m. in Ya’an, Lushan County of Sichuan Province. Its preliminary magnitude was 6.6 according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and 7 according to the China Earthquake Administration (CEA). About 200 people died, and 12000 were injured. About 1.72 million people were hit by the earthquake. The city of Ya’an is situated approximately 100 miles southwest of the capital of Sichuan Province, the city of Chengdu. It is a seismically unstable mountainous area situated near Tibet.
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The Sichuan earthquake took place not far from the epicenter of the Great Sichuan Earthquake of 2008 with a preliminary magnitude of 8.0 Ms and 7.9 Mw. It should be mentioned that both earthquakes had a similar origin, so in order to understand the origin of the Sichuan earthquake in 2013, it is necessary to consider the Great Sichuan Earthquake 2008. So, the Great Sichuan Earthquake took place at 02:28 p.m. of Beijing time on May 12, 2008. 69 195 people died, 18 392 were missing. Its epicenter was situated in Wenchuan County of Sichuan Province, at the distance of 50 miles west-northwest from the capital of Sichuan Province, the city of Chengdu. There were a lot of aftershocks at the magnitude of 6 in the earthquake area at the distance of up to 1060 miles from the epicenter. They lasted for a month from the date of the main quake. 11 million of 15 million people were made homeless. The earthquake went on for about two minutes and destroyed about 80 percent of buildings.
The earthquake and aftershocks extended along with the Longmenshan fault system near the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The Longmenshan fault system includes several faults. The Beichuan and the Guanxian-Anxian faults were ruptured as a result of the earthquake. According to the China Earthquake Administration (CEA), the earthquake went on along the Longmenshan fault. A thrust structure was on the border of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian Plates. The earthquake went on for about two minutes. Most of the energy was released for the first 80 seconds. The earthquake covered about 300 kilometers at the speed of 3.1 kilometers per second towards 49o northeast from Wenchuan. Maximum displacement was up to 9 meters. The focus was deeper than 10 kilometers. The energy source of the Great Sichuan Earthquake and Longmenshan’s southeast push came from the strike of the Indian Plate onto the European Plate and its northward push. The inter-plate relative motion caused large scale structural deformation inside the Asian continent, resulting in a thinning crust of the Quinghai-Tibet Plateau, the uplift of its landscape and an eastward extrude. Near the Sichuan Basin, Quinghai-Tibet Plateau’s east-northward movement meets with strong resistance from the South China Block, causing stress accumulation in the Longmenshan thrust formation. This finally caused a sudden dislocation in the Yingxiu-Beichuan fracture, leading to the violent earthquake of Ms 8.0.
According to the United States Geological Survey, there was a displacement of 9 meters along a fault about 240 kilometers long by 20 kilometers deep. It caused deformation of the surface more than 3 meters and increased the stress at the northeastern and southwestern ends of the fault. So, the earthquake happened as the result of motion on a northeast striking reverse fault or thrust fault on the northwestern margin of the Sichuan Basin. The earthquake’s epicenter and focal mechanism are consistent with it having happened as the result of movement on the Longmenshan fault or a tectonically related fault. The earthquake reflects tectonic stresses resulting from the convergence of crustal material slowly moving from the high Tibetan Plateau to the west, against strong crust underlying the Sichuan Basin and southeastern China. On a continental scale, the seismicity of central and eastern Asia is a result of northward convergence of the Indian Plate against Eurasian Plate with a velocity of about 55 mm/year. The convergence of the two plates is broadly accommodated by the uplift of the Asian highlands and by the motion of crustal material to the east away from the uplifted Tibetan Plateau. The northwestern edge of the Sichuan Basin has previously experienced destructive earthquakes. So, Sichuan Province is situated in the seismically active zone of Longmenshan fault spreading along the border between Sichuan Basin and Tibetan plateau. There were twelve earthquakes in the zone since 1900 including the Great Sichuan Earthquake 2008.
The aftermath of the earthquake was horrible. There were 1815 aftershocks in the zone of the earthquake. They destroyed about 90 percent of buildings in the earthquake area. So, 100 percent of buildings in Lushan County were damaged. The power lines and telecommunications were interrupted. Roads were destroyed. In order to understand the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake and its impact on China and world economies, it is necessary to analyze articles about the earthquake in American and Chinese newspapers. So, in American, The New York Times authors of the articles of the Sichuan earthquake describe the aftermath of the event and life of people in Sichuan Provence after the earthquake. They described efforts of volunteers, government, soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army of China directed on saving people, rebuilding dwellings, improving living conditions in earthquake-battered areas. The authors compare the Sichuan earthquake 2013 with the Great Sichuan Earthquake 2008 to make a conclusion of the scope of the disaster. So, Jane Perlez in her article “Surviving China’s Latest Earthquake, but Afraid to Go Home” of April 20 depicted the sufferings of common Chinese people by the example of the life of 43-year-old Song Yuanqing, a builder who came back to find his home destroyed. Neighbors with their family gathered around a fire in the backyard of the village leader to sleep there that night. People were afraid to sleep at night in a few survived houses. About 7000 soldiers were directed to help people to demount obstructions. Then the author informed that China’s prime minister, Li Keqiang came to the area of disaster and remained there on Saturday evening. He had to sleep in a tent there. The author mentioned of multiple volunteers came to help people in Sichuan Province. Sunday morning China’s government informed people of 174 people had perished from the earthquake, and 5700 people had been injured. Most of the victims were from Ya’an.
The people could feel the earth tremors in Chengdu. They could see how water had fallen to the floor from aquariums and other vessels. Another worker Yang Yubing from Baoxing County told about his travel for Baoxing from Chengdu. He was very upset not to come home because of the destroyed road. He had been driving for 7 hours and had been close to his apartment when emergency workers stopped him. So, he had to stay at school. Helicopters took aboard injured people to deliver them to the hospital. There was 90 percent of entirely destroyed buildings in Longmen. There was neither water nor electric power there. A hundred dead people were everywhere. Rescuers had not arrived at that time. So, it was really horrible view to see the completely ruined town with dozens of dead people in the streets. Firefighters saved 27 people in Lushan County from destroyed buildings. There were many critical comments on government actions because of sending rescue crews to wrong places or misusing the equipment while saving people from under bricks and rubble. The article denoted avoiding by the government some lagging behind occurred in the Great Sichuan Earthquake 2008. At the same time, there was an interview in another article with a Chinese volunteer Li Chengpeng, a sports commentator from Sichuan, who created a team of volunteers. He told about their activity to deliver goods to the districts where government rescuers had not arrived. He acknowledged the importance of the government’s participation in rescue people and rebuilding destroyed areas. At the same time, he criticized China’s Red Cross involved in a corruption scandal in 2011. So, three volunteers were elected to supervise the activity and spending the money by China’s Red Cross. At the same time, directives from the Central Propaganda Department were delivered to China’s newspapers with the demand not to issue negative information about the earthquake. Contrary, there were many red propaganda banners along highways for people want to express the government and the party appreciation for their deeds. It should be mentioned despite everything, civil society continues its formation in China. Some government officials were dismissed for corruption, as a result of the demands of civic activists.
An author Huang Zhiling wrote an article “Rescuers Hike to Cut-Off Towns” in China Daily of April 22, 2013, about Chinese doctors, who treated injured people in Sichuan Province on Sunday, the next day of the tragedy. So, Yang Renui, ahead of the 37-the Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army, together with a group of 30 medical specialists departed to Baoxing County on Sunday. They were driving for an hour and a half to Baoxing. Then they had to go on foot because the road was blocked by a landslide. So, they came to Lingguan after six hours of walking. They found that all buildings were damaged, and there were more than 1000 injured inhabitants there. Rescue workers put in order the road to Lushan. At 4 p.m., soldiers sent four injured people to the 37-the hospital in Ya’an. In 1 hour, 157 injured persons were sent to the hospital. Another 32 persons were sent to the hospitals in Chengdu and Chongqing. 200 rescue workers were sent to Baoxing. They formed five groups to search for injured people. 20 people were dead and 380 injured of 22000 inhabitants of Longmen. The health center treated more than 500 persons a day. It was five times over its capacity. The West China Hospital in Chengdu treated 213 patients. Its doctors made 49 operations till Sunday evening.
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It should be mentioned in the conclusion that despite all tragedy, the Chinese people coped the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake. By the words of Glenn Maguire, Asia-Pacific chief economist at the Societe Generale in Hong Kong, the earthquake influence on the global economy would be trifling. Of course, Beichuan County would be rebuilt at the new location. Direct economic losses in Sichuan will be about 67 billion yuan, or 9.6 billion U.S. dollars. It will amount to 0.27 percent of the Chinese GDP in 2007. China had a fiscal surplus of 170 billion yuan last year, and revenues rose by more than 30 percent in the first quarter compared with the last year. So, the Sichuan earthquake will influence neither the Chinese economy nor the global one.