Major Earthquake Devastates Chengdu, China

12 05 2008

A powerful earthquake that struck central China on Monday may have killed nearly 9,000 people, leveling most of the buildings in one county and trapping hundreds of students after a school collapsed, the country’s official news agency said.

The magnitude 7.9 quake was felt as far away as Vietnam and Thailand. It appears to be the most devastating earthquake to hit China in more than three decades.

The epicenter was located about 60 miles northwest of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan (四川省). Over 300 after-shocks followed the earthquake.

Approximately 80 percent of the buildings in Sichuan’s Beichuan County were flattened in the quake, the news agency reported. A chemical plant in Shifang city also was destroyed, burying hundreds of people and spilling tons of toxic liquid ammonia.

Outside the city of Dujiangyan, at least 50 students were killed and 900 trapped after the three-story Juyuan Middle School collapsed. Buried teenagers could be seen struggling to break loose from under the rubble of the three-story building, while others cried out for help.

Dozens of bodies of children were laid out on the ground, waiting for parents to identify them, Block said. Once claimed, the bodies were wrapped in shrouds and brought under plastic tarps. Hundreds of parents waited for hours in the rain for word of their children.

Students also were buried under five other toppled schools in Deyang city.

The earthquake struck in the middle of the day, around 2:28 p.m. local time. People flooded into the streets as the ground shook, and many were trapped in collapsed buildings.

In Dujiangyan, 45 miles north of Chengdu, a hospital collapsed with an estimated 100 people, NPR‘s Robert Siegel reported. Crane crews worked to rescue those trapped. Tents at a Red Cross center were set up to tend to the wounded as they waited for ambulances to take them to other hospitals.

The earthquake crashed telephone networks in Chengdu and plunged parts of the city of 11 million into darkness.

The devastation comes as China is preparing to host the Olympic Games, which begin in Beijing on Aug. 8

From NPR (Audio reports available.)

NPR’s “All Things Considered” will originate from Chengdu, China, the week of May 19-23.

May 12, 2008

Donating to International Charities

A number of people have posted questions in the blog’s discussion threads about how they can make donations to charities involved in the relief efforts. International charities are just beginning to ramp up their efforts in China, as well as in Myanmar. If you’re looking to give money to help these relief activities, here are some international charities to consider:

Meanwhile, there are a number of online tools available for evaluating charities and making donations to a broader range of NGOs, including CharityNavigator.org and NetworkForGood.org.

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13 05 2008
red cross china | Today Trends

[…] Major Earthquake Devastates Chengdu, China4 hours ago by jrotem Tents at a Red Cross center were set up to tend to the wounded as they waited for ambulances to take them to other hospitals. The earthquake crashed telephone networks in Chengdu and plunged parts of the city of 11 million into darkness … […]

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