* Over 10,000 feared dead in biggest earthquake in China for 30 years
* Earthquake measured at 7.9 on the Richter scale, epicentre(s) in western Sichuan
* Second earthquake/aftershocks measuring 5.0 and 6.1 magnitude reported at epicentre today
* Relief efforts hampered by terrain and poor weather
* 15 British tourists among the missing. The group of tourists were thought to be 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)
* Sichuan provincial government website of the Abeizhou Seismic Bureau assures residents news of an impending earthquake is just a rumour hours before earthquake hits. Notice/pictures subsequently removed/blocked
* Minor tremors felt in Shanghai, Beijing, and across China
A second earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale has hit Sichuan province, 24 hours after a 7.9 earthquake struck Wenchuan, 92km northwest of Chengdu. A quake of 5.0 magnitude was measured this morning at 7:19am at the epicentre and this afternoon at 15:07pm a 6.1 magnitude quake hit, hampering the ongoing rescue efforts in the region.
Latest estimates put the possible death toll at more than 10,000 although this figure looks set to rise given the remoteness of some of the areas hit. In the worst effected areas, numerous buildings have collapsed trapping people under the rubble. The mountainous terrain, as well as landslides and poor weather, are hampering the efforts of relief services to get to those in need. The Chinese Red Cross has appealed for donations to help with rescue efforts. Japan, Russia, Taiwan, and Germany have been amongst those who have offered assistance while the Li Ka Shing foundation has donated 30 million RMB and Carrefour 2 million RMB.
In Chengdu and Chongqing, numerous buildings were evacuated and people flooded the streets, with many unsure exactly what was happening. Fearing aftershocks and further earthquakes, some residents have spent the night in their cars or out in the open.
CCTV have just broadcast a live press conference from the State Council. In response to a question about official warnings on the internet before the earthquake hit, one official said, “Such speculation is unreasonable.”
UPDATE 1, 5:40PM Pictures of the earthquake devastation from the BBC and Yahoo.
More graphic pictures here. (WARNING: Some of the pictures are graphic in nature!)
UPDATE 2, 6:00PM The Times (UK) reports that 10,000 are dead while another 10,000 are feared missing or buried in the rubble. The Guardian has an interview with reporter Tania Branigan who describes the scene at the earthquake zone, “through the streets you see these enormous piles where buildings have collapsed”
UPDATE 3, 6:05PM The Times just revised those numbers to 12,000 dead, 5,000 more buried. APA say 60,000 are missing.
UPDATE 4, 7:30PM For you Beijingists: Sichuan Earthquake Benefit Concert, Mao Live House, Gulou Dong Dajie, BJ. Wed May 14th 8pm. 50RMB
UPDATE 5, 8:00PM The Guardian now has a video and a full written report from Tania Branigan who (as we mentioned earlier) is at the earthquake zone. She writes that many people’s anguish is quickly turning to anger, quoting one resident of Dujiangyan (where a school building has collapsed) as saying:
“These buildings outside have been here for 20 years and didn’t collapse – the school was only 10 years old. [Government officials] took the money from investment, so they took the lives of hundreds of kids. They have money for prostitutes and second wives but they don’t have money for our children. This is not a natural disaster – this is done by humans.”
UPDATE 6, 7:26AM The BBC is reporting that a group of 31 British tourists have turned up safe and well in Chengdu following a trip to the Wolong Panda Reserve. It is still unclear if this group is the same as the group of 19 British tourists previously reported missing in the area
UPDATE 7, 7:40AM Rescue teams have finally made it through to the epicentre of the earthquake this morning. The BBC reports that a few hundred soldiers and police have managed to get to the area despite adverse weather conditions and broken roads. “They found 500 bodies within a few hours – but have still not searched many devastated areas”. The report states that an estimated 60,000 people are still missing
UPDATE 8, 8:04AM The NY Times is saying that, despite protests from people within China and calls for it to be temporarily halted, the Olympic Torch relay will continue. It will, however, be scaled down according to a statement from the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games:
“As the entire nation directs efforts to the common purpose of helping the region recover from the disaster, BOCOG has decided, after consultations with Jiangxi and other provinces, that beginning with the relay in Jiangxi Province, it will simplify procedures, emphasize simplicity and efficiency while putting safety first during the relay. And prior to the start of the torch relay, all relay participants will observe one minute of silence to extend condolences to the victims of the tragedy. Donation boxes will be set up at the starting and finishing points and along the torch relay route to encourage people to help with the relief work.”
If you or anyone close to you has been affected by the earthquake, please write to us at info AT shanghaiist DOT com.
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