A strong earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale has rocked Wenchuan in Sichuan province, some 92km northwest of Chengdu. The earthquake took place at 14:48 Beijing Time and tremors were felt (by our MSN friends) as far as Wuhan, Shanghai and Beijing. This picture on the right shows the aftermath of the IT department of the Sichuan Bureau of the Xinhua News Agency.
Former Shanghaiist contributor Fergus Ryan tells us he felt the earthquake on the 12th floor of his workplace in Beijing.
Here in Shanghai, a friend of a friend who works in office tower of MetroCity (Meiluocheng) at Xujiahui says her building has been evacuated.
Shanghaiist contributor Sue-Anne Tay who works in the HSBC Tower in Lujiazui says, “Many people were feeling quite giddy for some reason, we got calls saying they saw buildings swaying a little. Masses of people have evacuated the building, though not with excessive alarm.”
Earthquake details from the US Geological Survey here.
More updates as we get them here.
UPDATE 1, 3:35pm: Here’s what some China-based Twitter-ers are saying:
nocas (in Shanghai: “breathing normal again. feeling an earthquake on the 31st floor was not fun.”
niubi (in Beijing): ” We r on 38 th flr in beijing cbd. Terrifying how much the bldg was swayed. Grabbed the kids and took the stairs down when swaying stopped”
imagethief (in Beijing): “Earthquake. Evacuating Kerry Center.”
imagethief again: “Walked down 27 floors for a micro quake. Sheesh. Everybody watching CCTV tower nervously.”
More “earthquake” Twitter updates here.
UPDATE 2, 3:43pm: Radio Australia says the earthquake was felt even in Thailand.
UPDATE 3, 3:46pm: Epicentre of the quake on Google Maps here.
UPDATE 4, 3:49pm: From Eastday.com:
No time to translate in detail right now for non-English readers, but this one basically says people working in office buildings at Weihai Lu were “shocked” to feel the ground below them shaking and some reported of giddiness. This shaking of the ground lasted for five minutes and ended at 2:51pm.
UPDATE 5, 3:59pm: “Still feeling tiny aftershocks at 15:59 local time,” via Twitter user in Chengdu.
UPDATE 6, 4:04pm: Via CNN, epicenter was 10km below surface. No injuries reported yet. Mobile phone networks down in Chengdu. Via elsewhere, we have heard some flights to Chengdu have been canceled and more aftershocks are expected.
UPDATE 7, 4:06pm: Twitter users filing updates from Chengdu: casperodj and inwalkedbud.
UPDATE 8, 4:10pm: Sina’s earthquake page (in Chinese).
UPDATE 9, 4:11pm: Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport to be closed till 6pm today.
UPDATE 10, 4:13pm: President Hu Jintao calling for top-level rescue efforts to save the injured and ensure safety of people in the earthquake zone, Premier Wen Jiabao on his way to earthquake zone to “direct rescue efforts.”
UPDATE 11, 4:16pm: Great tremors felt in Xi’an, employees run out of Provincial Government Hall.
UPDATE 12, 4:19pm: BBC blogging about Twittering about the Chinese earthquake. The future is now.
UPDATE 13, 4:23pm: “Richter Scale Magnitudes” on Wikipedia: “7.0-7.9, Major, Can cause serious damage over larger areas, 18 per year.” We have seen reports ranging from 7.5 to 8.0 for this one.
UPDATE 14, 4:25pm: “Spoke too soon – another aftershock just happened.”
UPDATE 15, 4:30pm: Video of Xi’an Technological University students evacuating their buildings:UPDATE 16, 4:39pm: Intrigue. There were rumours of a “huge impending earthquake” but concerned villagers in the Matang Village of the Maerkang County were told by the Abeizhou Seismic Bureau that those were just rumours and everything “got back to normal quickly.”
See here and here.
UPDATE 17, 4:41pm: Another video of confused people evacuated and out on the streets, but not sure of exact location:UPDATE 18, 4:44pm: China earthquake related maps via U.S. Geological Survey.
UPDATE 19, 4:47pm: Flickr photos tagged “earthquake”. Unfortunately the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer had a game last night.
UPDATE 20, 4:49pm: Another Twitter user in Chengdu is lyrrael.
UPDATE 21, 4:58pm: Still not a clear picture of extent of damage at epicenter, 70km away from Chengdu.
UPDATE 22, 5:04pm: CNN reporting four primary school students dead in Chongqing. They cited a Xinhua report. Can’t find link.
UPDATE 23, 5:08pm: The Zhejiang Seismic Bureau is dismissing reports of an earthquake in Jiaxing measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale as rumours.
UPDATE 24, 5:10pm: China Eastern has cancelled all flights bound for Chengdu.
UPDATE 25, 5:14pm: The Australian: “Buildings fall in huge quake”
UPDATE 26, 5:15pm: Two primary schools in Chongqing collapse, four students die and over 100 more injured. Link
UPDATE 27, 5:19pm: Tremors from the earthquake felt in over a dozen provinces and municipalities nationwide: Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan, Tibet, Jiangsu, and Shanghai. Chen Jianmin (陈建民), head of the National Seismic Bureau, was overseas when the earthquake happened and is on his way back to China.
UPDATE 28, 5:23pm: Mobile signals all jammed. Xiaolingtong phones not working in Guang’an, Sichuan. All mobiles in Hanzhong (Shaanxi) and Xi’an not working anymore.
UPDATE 29, 5:30pm: Two earthquakes measuring 5.7 and 4.4 hit the oceans off Taiwan’s Hualian between 3:42 am and 5:11am on 11 May. (BBC just said “at least five” have died.)
UPDATE 30, 5:32pm: Not confirmed, but from reliable source: “Propaganda dept has banned news outlets from sending own teams. All stories have to be from Xinhua.” Anyone have more details?
UPDATE 31, 5:36pm: Picture of cracks in high-rise apartment building in Lanzhou, Gansu Province which appeared after the tremors were felt. Freaky.
UPDATE 32, 5:40pm: “Chronology of major earthquakes in China”
UPDATE 33, 5:50pm: Earthquake List for 10-degree Map Centered at 35°N, 100°E:
UPDATE 34, 6:01pm: Video shot during quake (or aftershock) from Sichuan University in Chengdu:
UPDATE 35, 6:11pm: Citizen journalist hits the streets of Xi’an and interviews people:Sichuan University video (above) just got played on CNN.
UPDATE 36, 6:15pm: China Mobile Sichuan says more than 2,300 base stations affected. Emergency repairs underway.
UPDATE 37, 6:17pm: Evacuation scene in Chengdu, Sichuan. Cracks appear in buildings:UPDATE 38, 6:24pm: On 25 Aug 1933, 15:50, an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale hit Diexi, which is very near Wenchuan, and killed more than 10,000 people and devastated the town.
UPDATE 39, 6:28pm: Abeizhou, in Sichuan, reports one death and eight serious injuries. We told you earlier that the Abeizhou Seismic Bureau had told residents that the news of an impending earthquake were nothing but rumours.
UPDATE 40, 6:33pm: From Reuters, “More feared dead or injured in China quake“:
More people were feared dead or injured in house collapses triggered by a huge earthquake that hit southwest China on Monday, state media reported.
Xinhua news agency quoted an official in the southwestern province of Sichuan saying many houses had collapsed in Dujiangyan city, near the quake’s epicentre in Wenchuan County.
Phones to the area have been cut off, but there have been five deaths reported in surrounding areas due to the earthquake.
UPDATE 41, 6:47pm: Thousands of toads escape onto the streets of Taizhou, Jiangsu Province, apparently because of lack of oxygen in the river waters:
UPDATE 42, 6:50pm: The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Meterological Bureau has sent over a million text messages to assure residents there is “no danger of an earthquake” although tremors were felt.
UPDATE 43, 6:57pm: Oh no. CNN cites Xinhua report claiming 900 schoolchildren buried in rubble in Sichuan. Link
UPDATE 44, 6:58pm: 44 waves of aftershocks have been felt in Chengdu, residents afraid to go home.
UPDATE 45, 7:03pm: CNN reporting 3,000 troops plus helicopters on way to head up relief effort.
UPDATE 46, 7:08pm: New changes ahead as small to medium showers expected all across Sichuan Province over the next three days.
UPDATE 47, 7:12pm: CNN reported four more teenagers dead. Not sure where.
UPDATE 48, 7:15pm: From Shanghaiist contributor Jake Newby:
I was in Chongqing this afternoon, at the airport about to board a flight to Shanghai. The whole terminal building shook and people panicked and started running for the doors. Apparently in Chongqing itself people poured out onto the streets.
UPDATE 49, 7:19pm: More info from Xinhua:
Nearly 900 students in southwest China’s Sichuan Province were feared buried when a high school building collapsed here in an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale on Monday afternoon.
At least four teenagers were confirmed dead at Juyuan Middle School in Juyuan Township of Dujiangyan City, about 100 kilometers from the epicenter in Wenchuan County.
UPDATE 50, 7:24pm: Out of the more than 90 listed companies in Sichuan and Chongqing, one is based in Wenchuan: Minjiang Utilities. Numerous listed companies remain unreachable over the phone by journalists.
UPDATE 51, 7:26pm: Provincial officials in Jiangxi say the Olympic torch run scheduled to take place there from May 14 onwards will not be affected.
UPDATE 52, 7:31pm: Via Telegraph: “Many people feared dead“. Xinhua says death toll now at 107.
UPDATE 53, 7:41pm: CNN keeps showing the Sichuan University video (Update 34) when discussing the 900 buried schoolchildren. We’re not sure, but we don’t think the two are related.
UPDATE 54, 7:44pm: Tremors felt in many high-rise buildings across Shanghai. Thousands evacuated.
UPDATE 55, 7:52pm: Scene of devastation at the collapsed Juyuan Middle School (聚源中学) in Dujiangyan (都江堰), Sichuan here. Death toll not confirmed. Rescue efforts still underway:
UPDATE 56, 8:25pm: At least five schools have collapsed in Deyang, Sichuan and many students are buried under the rubble.
UPDATE 57, 8:54pm: Awful news. 3,000 to 5,000 dead in Sichuan’s Beichuan County. 10,000 more injured. Link
UPDATE 58, 9:05pm: Death toll at Dujiangyan Middle School up to 50. Eight construction cranes working to remove rubble trapping hundreds underneath. Link
UPDATE 59, 9:12pm: Collapsed building in Wenchuan County, Dujiangyan Town:
UPDATE 60, 9:21pm: CNN reporting that five to eight power plants completely knocked off the grid. Rescue mission will go on in the dark.
UPDATE 61, 9:28pm: “My fellow Chinese, facing such a severe disaster, we need calm, confidence, courage and efficient organization,” Premier Wen Jiabao said. “I believe we can certainly overcome the disaster with the public and the military working together under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the government.”
UPDATE 62, 9:42pm: CNN: Official death toll now 5,000.
UPDATE 63, 9:49pm: The China National Tourism Administration has issued a travel advisory to NOT travel to anywhere around the earthquake zone until further notice.
UPDATE 64, 10:07pm: Several hundred people trapped at two chemical plants in Sichuan. Over 80 tonnes of liquid gases leaked.
UPDATE 65, 10:10pm: inwalkedbud reports of more aftershocks in Chengdu, which according to the local radio stations, is to be “the last wave”.
UPDATE 66, 10:16pm: Dan connected his friend, Bo Feng, in Chengdu with Matthew Bell of PRI’s The World for a phone interview, and here is Bo’s heartfelt account.
UPDATE 67, 10:25pm: Google Map of the epicentres of the succession of quakes that took place:
View Larger Map
UPDATE 68, 10:31pm: Another pic we were able to find out of Wenchuan from here. Oh the devastation. It just sends a shudder down our spine:
UPDATE 67, 10:35pm: The website of Red Cross China appears to be down. Not good.
UPDATE 68, 10:42pm: CNN reports the official death toll now approaching 7,000, citing Xinhua.
UPDATE 69, 10:46pm: Official death toll now 7,651 according to CCTV.
UPDATE 70, 10:50pm: niubi tweets: “sounds like some damage 2 rail lines not just in quake area. just what china needs; more supply disruptions that cause shortages & inflation”
UPDATE 71, 10:52pm: Did anyone mention? Today was Buddha’s birthday and the HK market was closed for it.
UPDATE 72, 10:56pm: CNN just reported as breaking news the people trapped at the chemical plants that we told you about in Update 64 at 10:07pm.
UPDATE 73, 11:01pm: More details of disruptions to railway services. Sorry no time to translate. Maybe a reader can help?
UPDATE 74, 11:18pm: President Bush has extended his condolences to the earthquake victims:
I extend my condolences to those injured and to the families of the victims of today’s earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province. I am particularly saddened by the number of students and children affected by this tragedy. The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the Chinese people, especially those directly affected. The United States stands ready to help in any way possible.
UPDATE 75, 11:21pm: From chabad.org: Wenchuan, the epicenter of the earthquake, is a popular travel destination among Israeli backpackers.
UPDATE 76, 11:22pm: CNN says death toll now at 8,500, citing Xinhua. Gawd.
UPDATE 77, 11:25pm: China News Agency says death toll now at 8,533.
UPDATE 78, 11:27pm: Great timely gesture by Carrefour to counter all that anti-French sentiment. They’ve just donated RMB2 million.
UPDATE 79, 11:32pm: The Guardian points out that Wenchuan is home to the Wolong nature reserve, China’s leading research and breeding base for endangered giant pandas. God have mercy on all the giant pandas.
UPDATE 80, 11:48pm: AP reports a death toll of 9,600.
UPDATE 81, 11:50pm: U.S. intelligence analysts are examining spy satellite images of the Sichuan province.
UPDATE 82, 12:09am: The New York Times confirms that 2,300 cell phone towers were knocked down. There are “no signs” that the earthquake has damaged the Three Gorges Dam, a few hundred miles east of the epicenter.
UPDATE 83, 12:21am: Japan, Taiwan, Germany, and Russia are all offering assistance in the rescue effort.
UPDATE 84, 12:29am: 61 dead and 176 injured in Sha’anxi province.
UPDATE 85, 12:45am: From Xinhua, China Telecom reporting that fiber-optic cables between Chengdu and Xi’an have been severed resulting in problems with telephone service. China Netcom reports that three Internet routes from Sichuan to other provinces have also been severed.
UPDATE 86, 1:01am: AP reporting that rescue efforts are being hampered by landslides that are blocking the route from Chengdu to Wenchuan
UPDATE 87, 1:27am: Yahoo! News has many photos of the earthquake damage.
UPDATE 88, 1:31am: “Damn the Earthquake Bureau!”
UPDATE 89, 1:49am: And so it begins, less than 12 hours after the earthquake: “Those who died in the earthquake are victims of the economic miracle,” so says The First Post.
UPDATE 90, 2:18am: As we expected, the notice we found on the Sichuan provincial government website of the Abeizhou Seismic Bureau (assuring residents the news of an impending earthquake were just rumours) that we told you about in Update 16 has been removed. We’re not sure when this was removed exactly, but this probably won’t be the last time we’re hearing of the Abeizhou Seismic Bureau. Screenshot still available here for those of you that missed the earlier update.
UPDATE 91, 6:16am: Another earthquake, 4.8 on Richter scale, hits Sichuan-Gansu border at 4:51am. Link
UPDATE 92, 6:22am: Report: At least 10,000 dead in Sichuan alone. Expert predicts death toll could hit 50,000.
UPDATE 93, 6:29am: Latest via The Guardian:
* Death toll rises to nearly 10,000 in Sichuan province
* 80 percent of buildings toppled in one Sichuan county
* Worst-hit Wenchuan county cut off from rescuers; no word from three townships nearest epicentre
* Over 1,000 buried under chemical plants, schools, offices
UPDATE 94, 6:36am: Epicenter appeals for aid: “We are in urgent need of tents, food, medicine and satellite communications equipment through air drop. We also need medical workers to save the injured people here,” said Wang Bin, Communist Party secretary of Wenchuan County, Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, Sichuan Province.
UPDATE 95, 6:38am: Epicenter yet to be reached by relief workers. Troops approaching on foot. Link
UPDATE 96, 6:49am: Wall Street Journal citing Merrill Lynch economists: “The main conclusion: While it’s still early and the human toll will be terrible, they believe the earthquake will have a ‘much smaller impact’ on China’s macroeconomy than the massive snowstorm that hit earlier this year.”
UPDATE 97, 6:52am: Bloomberg: “China Quake May Reduce Energy Demand, Accelerate Food Inflation”
UPDATE 98, 6:56am: Latest from Xinhua:
The Sichuan provincial seismological bureau said more than 1,180 tremors up to six magnitude have been recorded as of 5 a.m. on Tuesday.
Government in Shifang City of Deyang City, where a major chemical leak happened after the quake, said about 600 people died, including 81 students. As many as 2,300 people are still buried, in which 920 are students.
In Anxian County of Mianyang City, about 500 people died, and 85 percent of the houses in rural areas collapsed.
UPDATE 99, 7:02am: They are now saying the main earthquake registered 7.9 on the Richter scale.
UPDATE 100, 7:07am: Chinese expert prediction from 2002: “Sichuan is virtually certain to experience an earthquake measuring above 7 in the next few years.”
UPDATE 101, 7:13am: The death toll in Monday’s earthquake in central China could reach 50,000 to 150,000, largely because it hit close to cities where buildings aren’t quake-proof, a Colorado geologist says.
UPDATE 102, 7:20am: Check Sina for photos:
UPDATE 103, 7:36am: Note to Twitter users: Follow shanghaiist for earthquake updates. (Or just keep refreshing this page.)
UPDATE 104, 7:38am: How you can donate money to the China earthquake relief efforts.
UPDATE 105, 8:48am: 500,000 structures reported collapsed. Link (Via niubi)
UPDATE 106, 9:06am: We have to take a slight break from updates for a while. In the meantime, lots of good updates from Chinese media and websites here.
UPDATE 107, 12:09pm: Roads to epicenter ordered open for rescue workers by Premier Wen Jiabao as of noon. Link
UPDATE 108, 12:22pm: Thousands of tourists stranded in Abeizhou. One tour bus was buried also buried in a landslide, killing 37.
UPDATE 109, 12:29pm: 200 more buried in a middle-school collapse in Mianzhu.
UPDATE 110, 12:37pm: Latest casualty assessments, now at 9,219, available in Chinese at Sina.com.
UPDATE 111, 12:45pm: In areas of epicenter inaccessible by road, the government plans to use helicopters and paratroopers if necessary in the rescue effort.
UPDATE 112, 12:53pm: Though we shouldn’t expect more quakes, the Wenchuan earthquake was every bit as powerful as the 1976 Tangshan quake that killed 240,000 according to Beijing-based seismologist Jiang Haikun.
UPDATE 113, 12:58pm: Picture of previously reported tour bus via Sina:
UPDATE 114, 1:03pm: New York Times reports that there is little hope of a successful rescue for buried students in Dujiangyan.
UPDATE 115, 1:07pm: Beijing-based Huffington Post contributor Michael Standaert posts his suggestions for how to best help those effected by the earthquake.
UPDATE 116, 1:11pm: The Olympic Torch relay will go on as planned.
UPDATE 117, 1:16pm: Shanghai Stock exchange lists a number of companies that have stopped trading as of this morning.
UPDATE 118, 1:21pm: According to Xinhua, Gansu province was also hard-hit by the earthquakes with thousands of apartments and cave dwellings destroyed. 32,000 evacuated, 189 dead, and close to a thousand residents injured.
UPDATE 119, 1:30pm: More on the 66 companies that suspended trading today from Forbes and Marketwatch.
UPDATE 120, 1:33pm: A panda research facility near the epicenter 60 pandas are safe. Still no word yet about the status of the pandas at the Wolong reserch center.
UPDATE 121, 1:39pm: American National Public Radio (NPR) correspondents Melissa Block and Robert Siegel were accidentally caught in the middle of the earthquakes while reporting an unrelated story on Chengdu. Expect several internet radio stories from them on the NPR website.
UPDATE 122, 1:47pm: 1300 soldiers from Chengdu have finally arrived in Wenchuan. Rain and landslides continue to hamper rescue efforts.
UPDATE 123, 1:51pm: Ogilvy’s Digital Watch Blog reports on the impact of Twitter on the reporting of the Wenchuan earthquake.
UPDATE 124, 1:57pm: According to Shanghaiist contributor James Creegan, all flights to the Chengdu Airport (around 90km from the earthquake’s epicenter) have resumed as of 8am this morning after almost a day of cancellations.
UPDATE 125, 2:17pm: Business Week on some of the questions bloggers are raising about the earthquake:
One famous Chinese blogger, the television reporter Luqiu Luwei, raised a few questions on her blog: Why were so many middle school students among the dead from the disaster? What did that say about the quality of those school buildings?
Another blogger, Zeng XianNan, was suspicious about whether the quake could have been predicted based on seismic activity. “I saw the Sichuan Net news quoting Sichuan Earthquake Bureau official Deng Chang Wen saying before the earthquake no forecast indicated any macro anomolies,” Zeng wrote. “If this was true, then it means that our technology is not strong enough. But wasn’t [it true] that we have successfully forecast earthquakes before? If it were the case that it was detected but reporting was delayed, how would [they] explain that?”
UPDATE 126, 2:33pm: Multiple sources are reporting that Flickr images of the Sichuan provincial government website of the Abeizhou Seismic Bureau assuring residents that news of an impending earthquake were just rumors (as reported in UPDATE 90), are now blocked.
UPDATE 127, 2:45pm: Gasoline-filled freight train derailed in Gansu province during the earthquake, subsequently bursting into flames. 149 cargo trains have been stranded on their way to Chengdu.
UPDATE 128, 3:09pm: From Xinhua, 15 British tourists among the missing. The group of tourists were perhaps in the Wolong research center area. 2,000 other tourists are stranded in Tibetan-Qiang autonomous prefecture of Aba (阿坝藏族羌族自治州).
UPDATE 129, 4:17pm: Live State Council press conference on CCTV News now. In response to a reporter’s question about rumors of official warnings on the Internet before the earthquake occurred, one official said, “Such speculation is unreasonable.”
UPDATE 130, 4:27pm: Gas, electricity, and power plants all at risk:
China ordered coal mines, chemical plants and oil and gas wells to halt production to avoid further casualties after the country’s strongest earthquake in 58 years killed almost 10,000 people.
Companies in affected areas must evacuate workers and can’t resume output until conditions allow for safe operations, the Beijing-based State Administration of Work Safety said on its Web site today.
UPDATE 131, 4:50pm: State Council press conference update: 11,922 now dead.
UPDATE 132, 4:56pm: State Council press conference update: The Li Ka-Shing Foundation donates 30 million RMB ($4.3 million) to the rescue efforts.
UPDATE 133 5:01pm: State Council press conference update: During a question about the methods that the Earthquake Bureau uses to detect earthquakes, the broadcasts suddenly cuts to footage of the reporters waiting for the officials to arrive from earlier in the broadcast, then cuts to a montage of the damage from the earthquake. We guess the press conference is over.
Editor’s Note, 6:04pm: We have stopped live-blogging this earthquake and are taking a much-needed rest. For a summary of events, please refer to this post, and for on-going updates, bookmark this page. Twitter users: please follow shanghaiist for updates.
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