Warning: Constant ABSPATH already defined in /home/public/wp-config.php on line 27
Earthquake Update — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Earthquake Update

The USGS has upgrade the earthquake to a 7.9 from 7.8. If you are not aware of the nature of the scale, each larger whole number represents a ten-fold increase in power. A 6.0 quake is ten times more destructive than a 5.0 quake, so the 0.1 increase is significant.

This is the current CNN reporting on the China quake

CHENGDU, China (CNN) — Rainy weather and poor logistics thwarted efforts by relief troops who walked for hours over rock, debris and mud on Tuesday in hopes of reaching the worst-hit area of an earthquake that killed nearly 10,000 in central China, state-run media reported.

Setting out from Maerkang in Sichuan Province at 8 p.m. Monday, the 100 or so troops had to travel 200 kilometers (124 miles) to go before reaching Wenchuan, the epicenter of the quake, also in the province, Xinhua reported. After seven hours, they still had 70 kilometers (43 miles) to go.

“I have seen many collapsed civilian houses, and the rocks dropped from mountains on the roadside are everywhere,” the head of the unit, Li Zaiyuan, told Xinhua.

Added CNN Correspondent John Vause: “The roads here are terrible in the best of times … right now they’re down right atrocious. They’ve resorted to going in one man at a time on foot.”

Much of the nation’s transportation system shut down. Xinhua reported there were “multiple landslides and collapses along railway lines” near Chengdu.

Peter Sammonds, professor of geophysics at University College London, called the earthquake “tremendous.”

“Particularly in the more remote, the more mountainous part where this has taken place, a lot of the buildings are built on sediments that are quite unstable. They’re probably liquifying, causing the buildings to collapse. You might expect landslides to occur, which could actually stop the relief efforts going through on the roads, so this could be very grim in the remoter, more mountainous parts of this province.”

Until land routes can be opened it is going to be difficult to get the earth moving equipment or masses of supplies and equipment needed to deal with the aftermath.

People may be more familiar with the spellings Szechwan or Szechuan from visits to Chinese restaurants for the local specialties like Kung Pao chicken. The Province is also known for its Giant Panda sanctuaries where approximately 30% of the species live.


1 Badtux { 05.13.08 at 11:57 am }

Uhm, China’s transportation infrastructure is working just fine outside of the affected area. The problem is that inside the affected area, the train tracks are wrecked — and China is a train-centric society that relies on trains for long distance hauling. The roads outside the cities are terrible because they’re only used for short hauls by light buses and light trucks plus the government is still trying to dissuade farmers from heading to the cities by making it hard to get from point A (farm) to point B (city). Unfortunately, this also hinders efforts to get from point B to point A and if the train tracks that get you close to point A are wrecked, it becomes almost impossible. The operative word being “almost”. The Chinese know how to hump things on foot over destroyed infrastructure, though it’s not something they’ve had to do for a while. And they have a *lot* of troops. That said, their Army’s lack of logistical transport (it’s set up as a defensive army, which doesn’t need a whole lot of logistical support since it is not intended to operate beyond China’s borders) is going to be a big problem here until the railroads get fixed… and with those kinds of aftershocks, that might be a *long* time :-(.

As for what 7.9 means: This is worse than the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, which severely damaged or destroyed every masonry building in San Francisco. The only reason there wasn’t massive loss of life was that it hit in the early morning when most people were at home asleep in their wood-frame homes, and wood frame homes survive earthquakes much better than masonry buildings do. Well, that and the fact that SF was a port, thus aid could reach it quickly via ship. Even the most stringent earthquake codes are challenged by a 7.9 earthquake, if one hit the SF area today you’d get less loss of life but the transportation infrastructure would still be wrecked by the ‘quake.

2 Bryan { 05.13.08 at 2:37 pm }

Liquification was also a problem with the SF ‘quake and in some of the areas around San Diego, as they are beginning to discover in neighborhoods built on hillsides in the 1950s – the wrong type of fill was used. The houses maintain their integrity … as they slide down the hill.

There are a lot of areas in Germany that have similar problems with infrastructure, you are better off with a motorcycle than a car once you leave a rail line because the roadbeds were established by the Romans and haven’t been widened.

A death toll above 30K is very likely before this is all over.

3 ellroon { 05.14.08 at 12:04 pm }

Applying the Bush logic, if for every 3K deaths you get to acquire two countries … can China now bomb and invade Taiwan and Australia because of the earthquake?

4 Bryan { 05.14.08 at 12:23 pm }

Actually they would really like Siberia and Korea because they don’t like the water all that much.