May 12, 2008 deadly Sichuan Earthquake

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  • Created by: kudzi.c
  • Created on: 16-12-15 11:12

May 12, 2008 deadly Sichuan Earthquake

CausesGetting Started

  • Although the earthquake itself was a magnitude 7.9 ( the strongest earthquake to hit China since 1950) the effects of the earthquake were worsened by the poor infrastructure of buildings. You'd assume a place that frequently experiences earthquakes would be prepared right? Not in the case of Sichuan. Very little of the building were earthquake proof and many deaths were as a result of collapsing buildings.
  • The mud-brick houses, and even reinforced concrete buildings near the fault-break, stood no chance and were damaged immediately, many also collapsing.
  • Schools were unfortunately also not built to withstand such an earthquake, with many collapsed classrooms contributing to the deaths of thousands of children.
  • The scenes of death and destruction as well as the massive recovery effort needed prompted, for the first time in recent history, a request by China for international assistance.
  • The earthquake occurred along the Longmenshan fault after a north-east striking thrust.  The Longmenshan Fault which sits on the Indo-Australian Plate and the Eurasian Plate was ruptured by the quake.
  • The epicentre was in the mountains of the Eastern Margin of Qing-Tibet Plateau at the Northwest margin of the Sichuan Basin.
  • The epicentre was 1500 km away from Beijing, but in Beijing the earthquake was strongly felt.
  • Physical effects :
  • Landslides and rock falls damaged or destroyed roads and railways in the Beichuan-Wenchuan area. Trying to resources to an area was hard due to the mountainous terrain.
  • Short Term Responses:
  • The government sent 80,000 troops to coordinate the rescue efforts. The size of the area and the geology of the land meant that some soldiers were parachuted in and in the most remote areas, supplies were dropped off by parachutes as the terrain was so mountainous.
  • The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) has distributed more than 150,000 tents, more than 125,000 quilts and more than 245,000 pieces of clothing.
  • The International Federation distributed 100,000 family kits, kitchen sets, quilts and hygiene parcels.  China said it would gratefully accept international help to cope with the quake.
  • Long Term Responses:
  • By the end of June 2008, the Chinese government had allocated 95 billion yuan to the relief fund while domestic and foreign donations reached over 55 billion yuan in money and materials
  • China's relief organizations, researchers, and government officials will be studying how to improve disaster prevention and response in the future. the process will create a better understanding of rebuilding around the altered geography of disaster-stricken areas, disaster's psychological effects, and the feasibility of an integrated ecological, economic, and cultural solution to natural disaster


  • Somewhere between 87,150 (69,227 dead and 17,923 missing) and 87,587 (69,195 dead and 18,392 missing) were killed.
  • 374,643 injured (a number exceeding the injured in Haiti).
  • Somewhere between 4.8 million and 11 million people were homeless.
  • The collapse of URM buildings and to a lesser extent RC buildings, caused most of the shaking deaths. Around 25% of the deaths were due to landslides and other effects apart from shaking.
  • Along with the landslides, quake lakes were formed. 34 lakes formed due to earthquake debris blocking and damming rivers. Entire villages had to be evacuated because of the possible flooding of downstream homes.
  • It reached a maximum intensity of XI (MMI).
  • $146.5 billion (CNY1 trillion) was arranged to be spent over the 3 years from 2008-2011.Direct economic losses were calculated to be CNY845.1 billion ($125.6 billion US)
  • China and the rest of the world gave generously, and as of April 30, 2009, contributions to the total to 76.712 billion yuan ($11.4 billion US).
  • Students (19065 killed) were a heavy victim group in this earthquake with over 7,000 school buildings in Sichuan Province collapsing. Millions of livestock and a significant amount of agriculture were also destroyed. Estimates of up to 12.5 million animals (including 1 million pigs were put forward).
  • Since 2008, much reconstruction has occurred for the almost 2.5 million households that needed rebuilt homes and housing. Estimates vary, however all that can be said is that much money has been pumped into the region, and that reconstruction is nearing completion.
  • The destruction of houses via shaking, and the landslides contributed to one of the highest death tolls (7th) in the last 100 years worldwide. The 87,000 fatalities and over 370,000 injuries left a lasting impact on families throughout the province.
  • Rebuilding destroyed cities from the ground up required a huge amount of resources and cost.
  • How could we have prevented this?
  • China could have reduced the damage from earthquakes in many ways:
  • Strengthen the bridges in the area
  • Prepare an emergency plan to warn everyone about the earthquake
  • Prepare an emergency plan for helping those who get injured
  • Set up an earthquake centre so people can phone for advice
  • Schools should practice what to do in earthquakes (as often as fire drills)
  • Teach people about what to do in earthquakes
  • Tell people how to pack emergency kits
  • Check all buildings are built correctly to ensure they can withstand the tremors.
  • Ensure builders follow rules for safe buildings
  • Set aside large sums of money for earthquake preparation
  • Set aside some money for earthquake prediction (but not too much as the predictions aren't always reliable and it isn't any good if you know there is going to be an earthquake but aren't prepared)
  • Use money to teach people how to prepare themselves for earthquakes

Overall summary

Tectonic Summary   Red zone is the Violent to Extreme shaking zone of the Sichuan May 12 2008 earthquake The Sichuan earthquake of May 12, 2008, occurred as the result of motion on a north-east striking reverse fault or thrust fault on the north-western margin of the Sichuan Basin. The earthquake's epicentre and focal-mechanism are consistent with it having occurred 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 south-eastern China. On a continental scale, the seismicity of central and eastern Asia is a result of northward convergence of the India plate against the Eurasia plate with a velocity of about 50 mm/y. 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 north-western margin of the Sichuan Basin has previously experienced destructive earthquakes. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake of August 25, 1933, killed more than 9,300 people, of which 2,500 were killed by a quake lake burst.n full swing.


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