A powerful earthquake, magnitude 7.9, near Sichuan has killed at least 10,000 people and numbers are expected to rise. In Beichuan, 80% of the buildings collapsed. It struck in the early afternoon when people were at work and at school. When schools collapsed, hundreds of students were killed. Two chemical plants have also collapsed. There is no news from the epicentre of the quake, which is a relatively remote and mountainous area, about 100 km northwest of Chengdu. Roads are damaged. In contrast to Burma, China has mounted a massive rescue effort. The Red Cross Society of China are bringing in blankets and assessing the situation with the help of a disaster management expert from the international organization. Volunteers and the Chinese army are pressing towards Beichuan on foot. China is relatively lucky in that it practises disaster recovery regularly and also has been preparing for any eventuality during the Olympics.
This is the strongest earthquake since 1976. The earthquake was felt in Peking, a thousand kilometers away. Aftershocks have been felt about every 20 minutes and survivors are sleeping outdoors for fear of further building collapses. Harold Asmis of Ontario-geofish estimates that the epicentre might be as much as 30 km deep.