The May 12, 2008 deadly Sichuan Earthquake – A recap – 3 years later

Last update: May 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm by By

It has been 3 years, since the 3rd most deadly earthquake in China since 1900.
On this fateful day, the 12th May 2008, at 14:28 Local Time, the earth shook for close for 2 minutes in Sichuan province.

 

Sichuan earthquake May 12, 2008 - Image courtesy Spark-of-inspiration.com

Somewhere between 87,150 (69,227 dead and 17,923 missing) and 87,587 (69,195 dead and 18,392 missing) were killed, with 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.

Many aftershocks were also recorded with many casualties and damage from this Mw7.9/Ms8.0 earthquake of 19km depth. It reached a maximum intensity of XI (MMI).
The area of the intensity X was 3,144 square kilometres.
On an amazing scale, a 936km by 596km ellipse was of damaging intensities (VI and above).

$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), the total loss being 91.3% from Sichuan, 5.8% from Gansu and 2.9% Shaanxi. Brought forward to 2011 dollars, on the CATDAT list of damaging earthquakes this is the 3rd highest economic loss from an earthquake after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake.

 

Reconstruction of Wenchuan - Picture courtesy chnarmy.com

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.

Earthquake-Report, hopes that the readers remember those lost in this quake on this, the 3-year anniversary, and also to remember the risk of earthquakes to all people on the earth.

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 northeast striking reverse fault or thrust fault on the northwestern margin of the Sichuan Basin. The earthquake’s epicenter 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 southeastern 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 northwestern 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.

 

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