On 12 May 2008, Wenchuan County in the Chinese province of Sichuan experienced one of the most violent earthquakes in history. With an epicentre located 90 Km from Chengdu and registering a 7.9 on the moment magnitude scale (roughly equal to the old Richter scale), buildings swayed in Shanghai and Beijing and the tremors were felt as far away as Thailand and Pakistan, thousands of kilometres distant. Imagine what happened at the epicentre.
At the time of writing the official death toll reported by Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, is well over 15,000 and rising. Thousands of people remain trapped in rubble – nearly 20,000 of them in Mianyang alone. Entire communities have been obliterated. As with other natural disasters, the initial cataclysmic event is only the beginning, and rescue workers must now fight against time and the elements in order to search for the missing, provide care and shelter for the injured, and stave off disease among the survivors.
Roads in Wenchuan County have been damaged, blocked, or destroyed, slowing relief efforts and in some cases preventing them entirely. Heavy rain and landslides also hamper the progress of rescuers. Thankfully, the danger from aftershocks is minimal, but it’s worth remembering that a previous earthquake of comparable energy in China, the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, caused the death of nearly a quarter of a million people (much more than that, depending on the statistics you use). Many of those victims were not killed during the earthquake, but instead died in the following days.
We can all help by donating to relief efforts, both as individuals and as companies. Remember, every little bit helps, especially when many tens of thousands of lives are at stake in the next few days. Outblaze donates to the Red Cross but all accredited relief agencies need your help now. Please donate and help to mitigate the effects of this natural disaster.
Some donation links
- Red Cross
- Red Cross Hong Kong donation page
- China Digital Times provides information on donating directly to the Red Cross Society of China (the Red Cross China web site appears to be unavailable but you can donate using the information in the article)
The photograph in this post was found on the EastSouthWestNorth blog. These images provide an idea of the horror and suffering caused by this earthquake and are extremely disturbing.
Wikipedia page on the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.
BBC tag for the latest news on China Earthquake.