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Earthquake in West China

Joseph X. Zhou's picture

After I put down the phone, my heart never felt so heavy. I just called my parents in my hometown, Chengdu,  a city with 12 million people, which is just 90 kilometers away from the center of the strong earthquake at a magnitude of 7.9.  It has killed more than 10,000 people so far. The death toll is still rising hour by hour.


Fig. 1 Earthquake map by the United States Geological Survey

At around 2:30 PM Beijing time today (May 12), a terrible beast began to shake the city furiously for about two minutes. Since it was still school time, hundreds of children in some middle schools were suddenly buried over when the campus building totally collapsed during the strong shake. Thousands of survivors from their destroyed houses were bought to the open places near the hospitals to receive some simple treatments to prevent from further bleeding. They varied from old women in their 80s to Children who are only several years old. Hospitals themselves are no longer safe since more earthquakes could come at any time, thousands of patients were also persuaded to leave hospital buildings and stay in the open places around. Even new born babies were also taken out with intensive cares from nurses nearby. Not like people in California, people in West China have no experience of the earthquake in the past 30 years, let alone for this strong one. Millions of people dare not back to their home for sleeping at night. They simply slept on the street or the city squares with light around to drive away their fear and anxiousness. Government began to set up large tents as the temporary shelters, and offer food, water and blankets etc. for all those suddenly homeless people.

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Fig.2 Collapsed building in BeiChuan County


Fig.3 Collapsed campus building buried hundreds of students


Fig.4 Rush wounded students to the hospital

Chengdu is by no means the worst-hit place in this disaster. In a single county nearby, more than 7,000 people were reported being killed so far. The highways and railways to the cities near earthquake center were heavily blocked by huge rocks fallen from the landslides nearby.  All communications, either landline or mobile, had been totally cut off. Nobody knows what had happened to the city named Wenchuan with 100,000 people which lies in the very center of the earthquake. Further news can be found in New York Times:

or Economist:



Fig.5 wounded people receive the treatments in the street

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Fig. 6 People use concrete pipe as temporary shelter

After earthquake, many desperate parents are searching for their sons or daughters; Many children are crying for their missing parents; Thousands of people are still buried in the ruins of collapsed building while some are luckily being rescued by the arriving soldiers. Everywhere hospitals are full of the wounded, and medical cares are far less adequate to meet the need. It is now raining and cold in early May in Sichuan. Millions of people are still sleeping outside. And tents, blankets or sleep bags are all badly needed. Anybody who is willing to help can go to American Red Cross


HongKong Red Cross


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Fig. 7 People lined up to get food and water

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Fig. 8 People staying in temporary shelter


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Fig. 9 People take care of patients outside a evacuated hospital

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Fig. 9 Earthquake survivors staying at a sport stadium in Mianyang City, where more than 10,000 have taken refuge

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Fig. 9  A 11-years old girl carried out of the rubble by rescuers


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Fig. 9 A rescuer carries an old woman out of BeiChuan County


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Fig. 9 Chinese premier speaks to people buried at a collapsed hospital

God bless West China. God bless those people who are suffering from this terrible earthquake.



Together with the people of Sichuan disaster!


God bless Sichuan and China! 

      I felt the shaking though I was in Wuhan when the earthquake happened.It is terrible!

     Bless our China!

I love mechanics!

hard work to improve yourself

everyone may know that 2008 is an uneven year for our homeland China! we should give our hands to help ourselves country and give your max support and trust, our country can surmount difficulties and can do everything best !

Temesgen Markos's picture

My heart goes out to the people of Sichuan and China. You are in my prayers at this difficult time.

Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture

We all have
had the recent sad and shocking news of the earthquake in china and the
fatalities. As I was involved in structural research team to investigate the
earthquakes in large measures, I can absolutely understand the disaster that
has happened and understand the feelings of people who have lost their relatives
at this time, we all together must try to construct our structures stronger and
safer. Lets wish the injured people to get well soon and hope to the relatives of all who
has lost their families.


Li Han's picture

While with no intention to make Imechanica a charity website, we mechanician can help beyond mechanics. 

Please donate for 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.

No management fee, no transaction fee, all money goes to those striving for life.

Thank you very much. 

Li Han

zhan-sheng guo's picture

Dear Professor  Dr.Zhan Sheng Guo,

           I am writing to extend my deepest sympathies to you. I was deeply saddened to hear about the great loss of lives and extensive damage caused by the sudden and deadly earthquake in Sichuan province.I would like to extend my sympathies to the people of china who are affected by the earthquake in Sichuan,and my condolences to the families of victims.

I will light a candle for them tonight.

With best regards,

Muhammad Taj


Bless the people in Burma and China.


God bless, and we do what we can do best

Bin Liu's picture


Zhigang Suo's picture

Many emails came from college classmates.  You got to be a Chinese to appreciate this one:

天将降大任于斯国也, 必先降其大雪,撞其火车,抢其火炬,震其国土,崩其股市!

In a few short phrases, the message turned recent natural disasters (snow, earthquake) and unnatural ones (train crash, Olympic torch, stock market) into divine indications for a great prospect for China. 

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