China Power

400+ Dead in Quake

A major earthquake in the west of China leaves hundreds dead and thousands hurt.

The big news in China today is obviously the series of earthquakes and aftershocks that hit the western province of Qinghai at 7.48 a.m. local time. At the time of writing this entry the death toll had already reached 400 with thousands of people reportedly injured after, by some reports, more than 80 percent of the buildings in the worst affected county collapsed. The main quake has been put at a magnitude of either 6.9 or 7.1—a powerful quake either way.

There are also reports already of students being trapped under the rubble of a collapsed school, though if it’s true that more than 80 percent of the buildings have collapsed it’s not possible to draw a direct parallel between what has happened here and what was evident after the Sichuan Province earthquake in May 2008, which claimed the lives of thousands of schoolchildren.

In the case of Sichuan, the anger over the shoddy construction in schools was exacerbated by the fact that local government buildings fared better in that quake, implying a selective disregard for safety.