An Chinese school teacher’s account of Yushu Earthquake (3)


Secret China Staff, May 26, 2010 -

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Looking for Food from a Heap of Rubble

In the afternoon, we dug out some food from a heap of rubble. Some people even robbed the supermarket and small merchants from the city. A friend of mine from Xining called and asked me about the earthquake. I told him that we had nothing to eat. However, food was a small matter. More serious, was the lack of drinking water. Everyone was very thirsty including the patients. Some people got polluted river water and boiled it for drinking after the water was somewhat settled. We drank very little and gave most of the water to the patients.

The media said that food was not a problem. And that was a lie. We did not see food or water. Some people were lucky enough to rob a truck but most of us had nothing. All we had was what we dug out from the rubble.

The presence of Special Police Forces

At night, there were many special police officers present to direct traffic. The traffic started to move at 12:00pm but the whole day was wasted due to the traffic jams. Because of that, no victims had been rescued.

My students were still under a building. And many people were under collapsed buildings. When I went to the intersection again, I saw some places that had military units and rescue teams, but very few people. The team that was on top of a building was asked to get off by police declaring that a high level official was coming. Soon the roads were cleared. An hour later, Premier Wen Jiabao came. At that point the rescue operation started to move slowly.

The Coming of Premier Wen Jiabao

On May 16, the third day after the earthquake, at 7:00am the special police force was there to watch the roads and make sure no more traffic jams developed. But where were they yesterday when the traffic jam blocked the roads for an entire day? They only showed up because the the premier had arrived.

My students have been buried for two days. But we are too weak to help and so are many of their parents.

I won’t show the pictures and the video. I don’t want to lose my job. Who knows, they may even put me in jail. My family needs me now more than ever. (End)

- Secretchina.com

Related:
- An Chinese school teacher’s account of Yushu Earthquake (1)
- An Chinese school teacher’s account of Yushu Earthquake (2)

An Chinese school teacher’s account of Yushu Earthquake (2)


Secret China Staff, May 26, 2010 -

<< previous

Rescue Team Put on a Show

At 2:00am I rode my motorcycle back to town. In the city I saw the rescue team still working to save people, but I was angry at the fact that only a few people were working, while a lot of rescue team members spent their time chatting and laughing. The locals were telling me, “They were on the building since noon hour. And now it is night and nothing has changed.” They are not saving people but doing a show of saving people.

In addition, many statements made were false. One reporter was telling a lie right in front of us: She said that now it is 2:00am and the rescue team is still working on saving people. Another reporter from a different TV station said that now it is 3am and the rescue team is still working tirelessly to save people. That is a big fat lie! The so-called rescue team, a total less than 10 people, has been on top of a building since lunch hour and has not moved a single stone. The victims under the building were calling for help when suddenly a fire started from inside the building and then was followed by silence. The rescue team did not even try to extinguish the fire!

They were here talking about saving people and did not go anywhere else. My students were all under the collapsed building, but they did not go there. However they said that they went. Honestly, we did not have any rescue team at all.

Plenty of Food and Water for the Rescue Teams but not for the Victims

On May 15, the rescue team did not save any victims. I saw them standing on the same building. At other places, only the locals were saving their relatives or friends. When I rode my motorcycle around the city to look for food, water, tents and quilts, I asked many police for these items. But the police officers all said they had nothing to give away. By then, it was almost noon and the roads were filled with vehicles from adjacent counties. The cars and trucks were loaded with food, tents etc,. Unfortunately, they were all for private usage.

The rescue team stationed above the race track had plenty of food and water. The people from the expedition team, or other rescue teams from certain units, also stayed at the stadium and had plenty food and water. Many families here did not have a tent to sleep in. After I came back from scouting, I found many families were putting up tents. I asked them where they got their tents. They said that they robbed others. By then the street was blocked with vehicles and all the goods on the pickups and trucks were being taken.

Later on, I rode the motorcycle around, but I did not see any more trucks with goods because of the traffic jam. Nothing was moving.(to be cont’d)

- Secretchina.com

Related:
- An Chinese school teacher’s account of Yushu Earthquake (1)

An Chinese school teacher’s account of Yushu Earthquake (1)


Secret China Staff, May 26, 2010 -

I am a school teacher and came to Xining, the capital of Qinhai Province, yesterday. I have witnessed the earthquake in Yushu.

At 5 am of May 14, while I was asleep, my bed started to shake, and then it shook so heavily that it almost threw me to the floor. I was startled. What was going on? Could this be an earthquake? I waited for a while and it became quiet. It was still dark out and no human voices or dogs barking could be heard. I fell asleep again because I was so tired. In my heart, I knew something was not right. I got up, put on my clothes and had a few puffs of my cigarette. Suddenly I was thrown onto the floor by the earthquake. I jumped up to open the door but could not. I rushed to the window, broke the window pane with a hammer and jumped into the yard. I could not see anything because of the thick dust.

Earthquake in Yushu—not like the reporting on TV

I am giving my first hand account of what happened during the earthquake. First of all, I want to clarify that the earthquake was not like what was reported on TV: It is not true that very few people died; it is not true that they were working hard to dig out the victims; it is not true that people had plenty of food and water; it is not true that they worked till midnight to save the victims. They are telling lies and the rescue operation only started slowly after Premier Wen Jiabao went there.

Many people were buried when the earthquake hit Yushu. Unlike the reporting on TV, only 1/3 of houses collapsed instead of 85%. But all the mud houses collapsed. What appeared on TV were houses in the center of the city.

At least 3,000 people died, that was what I saw. Many families were buried entirely and no one paid any attention to those people and no one recorded that either. I had witnessed at least 3,000 victims. Not everything in the report was true; some were made up stories.

No Food, No Water, No Help

When the earthquake hit, the three story dorm totally collapsed and all the students were buried. We started to dig them out but could not move the concrete rubble. We found the rescue team but they did not come until afternoon. When they did arrive, they only came with one forklift truck and did nothing. After sundown, not a single person was rescued.

Our neighboring families were buried, but we did not have time to help them. For two days, we were hurrying to dig out our own relatives, with hand shovels and wooden poles. On TV, they said that more than 6,000 people were saved. But the rescue team dug out very few people, mostly we dug out our relatives.

We put the victims on the horse race track. Because we used up all the medical supplies from school, we put the victims together. Some of them, we put on the trucks and covered them with quilts. At night, we found some wood pieces from the collapsed houses and burned them to keep warm. (to be cont’d)

- Secretchina.com

Shocking Documentary (must watch): Buried– Earth Quake, From 1976 Tangshan to 2008 Sichuan Wenchuan in China (video)


Buried, a Documentary (With English and Chinese caption) produced by Wang Libo, won the prize in Chinese Documentary Exchange Week in 2009.

Director’s Statement: The 1976 Tangshan Earthquake left a lot of open questions. Before the earthquake, seismological personnel in Tangshan and quake experts in Beijing had already warned of an imminent quake. But in the end, more than 240,000 people had to pay with their lives, causing a shocking tragedy of massive proportions. Why did this happen? In the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake about 100,000 people were killed. Faced with terrible quakes, the human race repeats tragedy time and time again. It is terrible that people can only offer money and bland tears after the disaster – when better preparation could have saved lives. A nation has to courageously face its own weakness to remain hopeful.

The film has been cut into 11 videos and posted on Youtube which you can find from following link:

http://www.youtube.com/user/syd1039#p/u/12/ssnaL35-CL0

Video 1: (With English and Chinese caption)

All 11 pieces of the video can be found from:

http://www.youtube.com/user/syd1039#p/u/12/ssnaL35-CL0

Official Earthquake Death Toll Underreported


By April 22, the official earthquake death toll in northwest China’s remote Yushu, in Qinghai Province, is listed as only 2,187, but local people claim that number is dramatically underreported.

Qinghai Jiegu Temple abbot Angwen Danbarenqing told The Epoch Times that most of his monks were spared from the disaster, and they devoted themselves to rescue work almost immediately after the quake.

“By the third day, the dead were collected for cremation together. More than 2,300 bodies were burned, and more corpses will arrive here soon. I have looked around in different places and think the death toll will reach 8,000 to 9,000,” he said.

However, a Qinghai Yushu Relief Headquarters report lists the death toll at 2,187 with 80 missing and 12,135 injured, including 1,434 severely injured. This report was issued at 5 p.m. on April 22.

Besides Tibetan victims, many migrant workers from the Han and Hui races were killed in the quake. A local rescuer said that the local regime did not count them among the death toll because these people normally live in poor conditions.

Another local rescuer named Zeng said that many migrant workers from neighboring Sichuan Province also died, and their bodies have been transported to their homes.

“The situation is so bad,” Zeng said. “We don’t understand why the media have not come here to report. Many people have no food and no place to stay, particularly the Tibetans. I saw many monks carrying out rescue work by digging in the snow.”

According to rescuers, no official earthquake relief teams appeared in many of the severely affected counties, although Beijing’s media repeatedly announced that rescue materials were continually shipped to the disaster regions.

Moreover, official rescue efforts were only organized in town centers where government facilities, schools, and shop buildings are located. The countryside has been left to fend for itself for several days. Abbot Angwen Danbarenqing added, “We have a lot of people here who were severely affected by the quake. There is a shortage of supplies to help them.”

According to official data, the population of Yushu is 100,000, including 40,000 in Jiegu County and 60,000 in surrounding rural areas. (The Epochtimes)

After Quake, Ethnic Tibetans Distrust China Government’s Help


By ANDREW JACOBS, New York Times, April 17, 2010-

JIEGU, China — The Buddhist monks stood atop the jagged remains of a vocational school, struggling to move concrete slabs with pickax shovels and bare hands. Suddenly a cry went out: An arm, clearly lifeless, was poking through the debris.

But before the monks could finish their task, a group of Chinese soldiers who had been relaxing on the school grounds sprang to action. They put on their army caps, waved the monks away, and with a video camera for their unit rolling, quickly extricated the body of a young girl.

The monks stifled their rage and stood below, mumbling a Tibetan prayer for the dead.

“You won’t see the cameras while we are working,” said one of the monks, Ga Tsai, who with 200 others, had driven from their lamasery in Sichuan Province as soon as they heard about the quake.

“We want to save lives. They see this tragedy as an opportunity to make propaganda.”

Since a deadly earthquake nearly flattened this predominantly Tibetan city early Wednesday, killing at least 1,400 people, China’s leadership has treated the quake as a dual emergency — a humanitarian crisis almost three miles above sea level in remote Qinghai Province, and a fresh test of the Communist Party’s ability to keep a lid on dissent among restive Tibetans. …… (new York Times)

Western China Quakes Kill at Least 300 in Qinghai Province


A magnitude 7.1 temblor struck shortly before 8 a.m. in a remote, mountainous area near the border between China’s Qinghai province and the Tibet Autonomous Region, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The U.S. Geological Survey said it recorded a 6.9 magnitude quake in southern Qinghai followed by two other temblors in the region.

In Yushu prefecture, an area predominantly inhabited by ethnic Tibetans, witnesses said that many houses had collapsed, according to state media. The prefecture has a population of about 252,000 people, about 97% of whom are Tibetan.

A prefecture official quoted by Xinhua said that in the town of Jiegu near the quake’s epicenter, more than 85% of houses had been knocked down by the quake. Rescuers were digging through the ruble by hand to try to find survivors, Xinhua said.

“Many are buried in the collapsed houses, and there are still lots of others who are injured and being treated at local hospitals,” the local official, Zhuohuaxia told Xinhua. He said local authorities needed excavating equipment and medical supplies.

Guo Yang, a resident of Jiegu interviewed by phone, said: “It is the most devastating thing I’ve ever seen.” Mr. Guo said nearly all the homes in the town had collapsed. “We are busy with rescuing people who are trapped,” he said.

Hundreds of People’s Armed Police were on the scene searching collapsed buildings and thousands more rescuers had been dispatched to the area, state media said.

Earthquakes are a frequent occurrence on the Tibetan plateau, but there are usually few casualties because the area is so sparsely populated. A massive earthquake in May 2008 in Sichuan, in southwestern China, however, left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing. (The Wall Street Journal)

RSF condemns China’s long jail sentences of two earthquake rights activists


Reporters Without Borders, Feb. 9, 2010-

Reporters Without Borders condemns the long jail sentences that judges in Chengdu (in the southwestern province of Sichuan) have imposed on two human rights activists and netizens in the past 48 hours. A three-year sentence was upheld for Huang Qi  yesterday while Tan Zuoren was given a five-year sentence at a hearing today during which police arrested and manhandled nine Hong Kong journalists.

“Bloggers and human rights defenders who dared to contradict official reports about the victims of the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan are being treated like criminals,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We deplore the severe jail sentences that have been passed without due process and we appeal to the supreme court and justice ministry to review these two cases and to investigate the use of violence against the Hong Kong journalists who wanted to cover Tan’s hearing.”

The press freedom organisation added: “After convicting human rights activist Liu Xiaobo on Christmas Day, the authorities are now using the Chinese New Year period to announce very harsh sentences for dissidents who are well known in China and abroad.”

Tan, who was tried last August, seemed to be in good shape when he appeared in court today to hear the court’s verdict and sentence. According to one of his lawyers, he thanked those who have supported him, reaffirmed his innocence and described the proceedings as “illegal.” The court imposed the five-year sentence after finding him guilty of subverting state authority. His lawyers said they would appeal.

Tan’s wife was not allowed into the courtroom for today’s hearing, while nine journalists who had come from Hong Kong to cover the hearing were briefly detained and roughed up, and their press cards were taken. Two of the journalists were injured. The press cards were returned after the hearing.

Tan, who had urged fellow netizens to come to Sichuan to cover the plight of the families of the earthquake victims, was arrested in March 2009. Several journalists and activists were manhandled when they tried to attend his trial in August.

Yesterday’s decision by a Chengdu intermediate court to reject human rights activist Huang Qi’s appeal against his three-year sentence was taken without any hearing being held, thereby denying his defence lawyers a chance to present arguments. Huang was notified by letter that his sentence had been upheld.

His lawyers, including Mo Shaoping, have repeatedly complained of irregularities in the proceedings and submitted to a petition to the court last month listing their complaints, including the fact that they were being denied access to case documents……. (more from  Reporters Without Borders)

China Sichuan quake was once-in-4,000-year event: scientists


AFP, Sep. 27, 2009 -

PARIS — People who were killed, injured or bereaved in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake had the cruel misfortune to be victims of an event that probably occurs just once in four millennia, seismologists said on Sunday.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Shen Zhengkang of the China Earthquake Administration and colleagues said the May 12, 2008 quake comprised a strong seismic wave, unusual geology and the failure of three subterranean “barriers” to resist the shock.

Using Global Positioning System (GPS) markers and data from satellite-borne interferometric radar, the scientists built up a picture of the Longmen Shan fault, on the northwest rim of the Sichuan basin, as it was gouged open by the 7.9-magnitude temblor.

Nearly 88,000 people were killed in what was the largest seismic event in China in more than 50 years.

The investigators said the sub-surface geometry is complex, varying significantly along the length of the fault zone……. (more from AFP)

China Police Kidnapped and Prevented Court Appearance by Witness for earthquake activist ’s Case


Human Rights in China, August 05, 2009 -

On Aug 5, a closed hearing was held in Chengdu Wuhou District Court on the case of Sichuan rights activist and founder of Tianwang Human Rights Center (天网人权) Huang Qi (黄琦), who was suspected of “illegal possession of state secrets”. Huang Qi was arrested by authorities after actively participating in Sichuan earthquake relief activities and helping parents who had lost their children seek justice. Huang Qi’s lawyers, Mo Shaoping (莫少平) and Ding Xikui (丁锡奎) appeared in court to enter a not guilty plea on his behalf. The court said the verdict will be pronounced at another time.

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Pu Fei (浦飞), a volunteer for Tianwang Human Rights Center who was taken away by unidentified people along with Huang Qi last June, was prepared to appear in court to testify in support of Huang Qi. On August 3, however, after speaking on the telephone with Huang Qi’s wife, Zeng Li (曾丽), Pu Fei was kidnapped in Chengdu by four police officers, brought to Nantong and prevented from appearing in court. When he protested, the police threatened him, saying, “Our public security offices are doing this to prevent you from continuing to commit crimes.” Pu Fei was detained by the police for two days, and was only released after the conclusion of Huang Qi’s hearing.

“Authorities who violate the law by abducting witnesses in broad daylight cause serious doubt that justice will be served in Huang Qi’s trial”, said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “This case, which is already tainted by suspicious politicization of the legal process, demonstrates that it is, as rights defender Teng Biao (滕彪) noted recently, the rule of law that is on trial in China. The Chinese authorities need to take immediate and public steps to assure domestic and international confidence in the fairness and openness of the trial.”

Zeng Li said that her son, Huang Qi’s parents, and 40 or 50 other supporters of Huang Qi were blocked from entering the court by a human wall of about a dozen policemen in the entryway of the courthouse. Zeng Li said that when four or five policemen pushed and pulled a handcuffed Huang Qi into the court, she “saw through the thick glass that Huang Qi made a ‘V’ for victory sign with his fingers at us.” The supporters that came were farmers who had lost land, evicted petitioners, and other rights defenders that Huang Qi had helped in the past.

Zeng Li told HRIC that she had delivered two applications to the court, one requesting to be present at the hearing and another requesting that Huang Qi be allowed to see his seriously ill father. Before the start of the hearing, the director of the court designated a judge to speak with her and inform her that her application had been denied. Zeng Li said, “I patiently explained to him that Huang Qi’s father is in the late stages of lung cancer and his condition is very serious. But this judge persisted to tell me that it was not allowed and also refused to tell me his name.”

Zeng Li said that Huang Qi’s lawyer, Mo Shawping, entered a not guilty plea, pointing out that the prosecutor’s evidence was insufficient, the legal documents not properly prepared, and a lot of the accusations did not hold up.

Zeng Li expressed that if Huang Qi was found guilty, the family will appeal to higher courts.

After the hearing ended, Huang Qi was led out of the court. Zeng Li said that at the time, “My son was shouting ‘Dad, Dad’ very loudly. The other people were also shouting, ‘Huang Qi, your mom is calling for you to go home to eat.’” Zeng Li said, “By the time we helped Huang Qi’s father to stand up, Huang Qi was out of site.”

Huang Qi disappeared suddenly on June 10, 2008, two months before the Beijing Olympics, because of his reports of the situation in earthquake-affected areas. It has been over a year since he was arrested by the authorities on the charge of “illegal possession of state secrets.”…… (More details from Human Rights in China )

Fresh aftershock hits China quake region: USGS


AFP, July 12, 2009 -

BEIJING (AFP) — A fresh aftershock jolted China’s southwest Monday, three days after an earthquake in the same area killed one person, injured hundreds and directly affected two million people, state media said.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 4.9 quake struck a minute after midnight (1601 GMT) and was centred 95 kilometres (60 miles) east northeast of the tourist city of Dali in Yao’an county, a mountainous area of remote Yunnan province.

The quake was recorded at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres, it said.

Official news agency Xinhua said there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries from the aftershock, which lasted about 10 seconds.

More than to 250,000 people in several counties in Yunnan were displaced after a 5.7-magnitude quake struck Yao’an on Thursday evening……. (more from AFP)

(Video) Hong Kong Magazine Editor Questions Accuracy of China’s Earthquake Death Toll


NTDTV, Via Youtube, May 09, 2009-

Chinese communist authorities have suddenly released last years Sichuan earthquake death toll numbers just days before the one-year anniversary on Tuesday. The announcement also denies that shoddy or tofu construction is to blame for school buildings that collapsed, killing thousands of students and teachers inside.

Ahead of the one year anniversary of last years devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, communist officials announce that the number of students missing totals 5,335.

But Hong Kong Open Magazine executive editor Cai Yongmei doubts the figure, and she is not alone.

A Reuters news polls suggests it could be closer to 9,000. Other experts say it may actually be closer to 10,000.

[Cai Yongmei, Executive Editor, Open Magazine]:
They manipulate the statistics. When faced with disaster they reduce the figure. They have this tradition.

Ms. Cai says that the Chinese communist regime usually reports the good but not the bad.

[Cai Yongmei, Executive Editor, Open Magazine]:
If the truth was revealed, many officials would lose their jobs, so they will try to protect themselves. How do they protect themselves? They have to completely cover up the whole truth about the tofu construction.

Cai believes that the Chinese Communist Partys denial of poorly built schools will lead to public anger.

[Cai Yongmei, Executive Editor, Open Magazine]:
The Chinese communists blocked it. As the result of the blockage, social conflicts and crises have no way to be vented or resolved. The more it accumulates, the greater the explosion will be in the end.

Hu Liyun works for the International Federation of Journalists and is in charge of Hong Kong and China projects. He says that some foreigner reporters who received clearance to report were blocked from doing so by local authorities.

[Hu Liyun, International Federation of Journalists]:
The problem is some officials and unknown people have been trying to obstruct them. It is necessary to register as a procedure, but they kicked them out before they could even register.

At least 69,000 people died in the disaster.

NTD, Hong Kong.

- From NTDTV on Youtube

China quake parents ‘harassed’


By Michael Bristow , BBC News, 6 May 2009, Beijing -

Parents who lost their children in China’s earthquake fear they will not be allowed to properly commemorate the disaster’s first anniversary.

Many parents want to return to the site of the schools in Sichuan that killed their children when they collapsed.

But the authorities have previously stopped them going to the schools on sensitive occasions, and are said to be monitoring the parents ahead of 12 May.

China has not said how many children were among the 90,000 dead and missing.

The government has admitted that nearly 14,000 schools – some of them poorly or hastily built – were damaged in the magnitude-8 earthquake.

Schools sealed off

One mother, Hu Hongfang, wants to return to Juyuan Middle School to mark the first anniversary of the death of her 15-year-old son Guo Jun.

But she is not hopeful that she will be allowed to get to the collapsed school site, in the city of Dujiangyan in northern Sichuan Province.

“On every occasion parents have wanted to pay their respects to their children, the whole school and nearby area have been sealed off,” she said.

Other parents told the BBC a similar story.

Zhou Siqiang, whose daughter died at the Juyuan school, said parents have been prevented from visiting the site on a number of occasions.

He said they were stopped from going to the site on last month’s Tomb Sweeping Day, when Chinese people traditionally visit family graves.

But he was undeterred. “I think I will join others and go to the school on the first anniversary of the earthquake,” he said.

Across Dujiangyan, parents at another collapsed school detailed some of the methods used by the authorities to prevent them from staging public displays of grief.

These includes stopping them from leaving their homes and taking them away from the city during sensitive times. …… (More from BBC News)

China Quake Zone: Officials Still Harassing Relatives, Arresting Activists, Obstructing Media


Human Rights Watch, May 6, 2009 -

(New York) – The Chinese government should mark the first anniversary of the devastating May 12, 2008, Sichuan earthquake by offering legal redress to surviving relatives, making public all information about quake-related deaths and damages, and dropping onerous requirements for media who want to report from the area, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch urges the Chinese government to allow relatives who lost family in the quake to freely bring lawsuits against those they believe are responsible for allegedly shoddy school construction linked to the deaths of thousands of children in the quake zone.

An estimated 70,000 people died in the May 2008 quake, many of them students whose schools collapsed. Over the past year, some parents have demanded an official inquiry into the buildings’ deficiencies, a completion of DNA testing to identify quake victims, and a complete list of victims’ names and ages. There are parents who have filed lawsuits alleging that faulty construction contributed to the collapse of their children’s schools, but to date no courts have accepted the cases. Not only have many of these parents been harassed, detained, and in some cases kicked or punched by officials and security forces, but the government has also pressured many of the victims’ families to accept one-time compensation payments in exchange for ceasing demands for a public accounting.

“Parents of student quake victims, who are trying to understand how and why their children died, deserve answers and compassion, not threats and abuse,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Persecuting quake victims and their relatives adds cruel insult to already grievous injury.”

Such harassment is occurring despite the Chinese government’s specific pledge in its new National Human Rights Action Plan, published on April 13, to protect the rights of Sichuan quake victims. The National Human Rights Action Plan commits the government to “Respecting earthquake victims (and) registering the names of people who died or disappeared in the earthquake and make them known to the public.” Some victims’ family members suspect that the government is delaying DNA identification and victim list publication for fear that a disproportionate percentage will have been students, and that public demands for accountability will resume.

“The Chinese government should take up this important opportunity to prove it’s serious about delivering on the action plan’s promises to protect the rights of Sichuan earthquake victims,” Richardson said.

In addition to harassing victims’ family members, state security forces have also targeted individuals trying to investigate the possible causes of school collapses or compile lists of quake victims. Those individuals include:

* Huang Qi, a veteran dissident and founder of http://www.64tianwang.com/, a website dedicated to publicizing human rights abuses across China. Huang was detained on June 10, 2008 in Chengdu, while investigating allegations that shoddy construction had contributed to the collapse of schools in the earthquake. He was formally charged with “possessing state secrets” on July 18, 2008, and his trial was indefinitely postponed for undisclosed reasons in February 2009.
* Zeng Hongling, a retired university professor. After posting online critiques of building standards in the Sichuan earthquake zone, Zeng was arrested in May 2008 and faces “subversion” charges.
* Liu Shakun, a teacher. Liu was reportedly arrested and sentenced in August 2008 to one year of “re-education through labor” on the charge of “disseminating rumors and disrupting social order” for posting on-line photographs he had taken of collapsed schools in the Sichuan earthquake zone. Liu was released from a labor camp and allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence outside of custody on September 24, 2008.
* Tan Zuoren, a literary editor and environmentalist. After trying to compile a name list of children killed in the Sichuan earthquake, Tan was detained in March 2009 on suspicion of subversion.

“From the 1976 Tangshan earthquake to the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, the Chinese government has repeatedly defaulted to a strategy of obscuring public safety information and persecuting those who try to reveal it,” said Richardson. “Such tactics aren’t just harmful for China, they can be a potential danger to the international community as food safety scandals and outbreaks of communicable diseases can rapidly escalate from local problems to global threats.”

Human Rights Watch said that in the run-up to the one-year anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake, some foreign journalists returning to document the region’s reconstruction are also being obstructed by quake zone government officials and security forces.

The Chinese government won justifiable praise in the weeks immediately following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake by allowing foreign media relatively unrestricted access to the disaster zone. However, by mid-April 2008, some foreign correspondents reporting from the quake zone were noting an increase in obstruction and harassment by government officials, state security forces, and plainclothes thugs who appeared to operate at official behest. Such harassment was particularly prevalent if foreign journalists were attempting to interview bereaved parents……. (more details from Human Rights Watch)

China’s change of student quake death toll angers parents


By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times, USA, November 21, 2008 -

Reporting from Beijing — Jiang Xujun felt the stab of his daughter’s death all over again today when Chinese officials acknowledged for the first time that 19,000 students perished in May’s deadly earthquake — and then immediately backed off the estimate.

Jiang used his bare hands to dig the body of his 7-year-old daughter, Jiang Yao, from the rubble of her primary school. Since then, he has fought the government for compensation for the death and assistance in finding a new home.

The months have brought only misery. On Friday, Chinese officials added insult to Jiang’s injury.

At a news conference on preparations for the winter in the quake zone, Wei Hong, executive vice governor of Sichuan, gave the student death toll as 19,065 — nearly a quarter of the total death count — a figure that was immediately quoted in stories by Chinese state-run and foreign news services.

Soon, however, an officer from the Sichuan provincial propaganda office said an official translation at the news conference misconstrued Wei’s remarks. He said the 19,065 figure was the total number of earthquake victims who have been identified.

For many, including the angry parents of children who died when their unstable schools collapsed, the about-face spoke volumes of how Chinese officials deal with sensitive revelations: a moment of candor followed by a contradictory reversal.

A Xinhua news agency report of the news conference reported Wei’s original remarks, but a second story on the state-run site claimed his estimate referred to a detailed list of identified dead and not specifically students.

A veteran reporter for the China Youth Daily today said it was still confusing whether Wei inadvertently released the real student death toll number, or was misquoted.

“I don’t know whether it’s true or not,” he said. “I have been to several earthquake zones, and I only know the death toll there, but for an overall death toll, I really have no way to know.”

For months following the 7.9-magnitude quake, officials had declined to offer a precise toll of the number of students who died. The topic has raised the ire of many Sichuan residents who watched schools collapse while other nearby buildings suffered little damage.

“We don’t trust the local government, they are too deceptive,” said Jiang, a 37-year-old former home-renovator. “School buildings are of shoddy construction. I am afraid the real number of dead students is more than 19,000.”

Jiang said the Fuxin No. 2 school where his daughter died was built in 1997. A total of 127 students at the school died in the earthquake, including 27 of the 41 in his daughter’s classroom.

“Other teachers’ office buildings did not collapse,” he said. “The school fence walls did not collapse, even our rural buildings did not collapse, just the [classroom] building collapsed.”

In the face of angry residents, local officials have also tried to quell protests from parents who have demanded an investigation into school construction. Police have been called in to silence rallies and some parents of dead or missing children say they have been either intimidated or even bribed to remain silent.

A local official at the heart of the quake zone killed himself this week, the second such suicide in two months, state media said, another sign of the emotional toll.

On Friday, Wei estimated that 1,300 schools have been rebuilt or are currently under construction. He said 200,000 homes had been rebuilt and another 685,000 dwellings were under reconstruction. Still, 1.94 million households still needed to be rebuilt or repaired, he said.

Jiang is among those waiting for their homes to be repaired.

“The local government did not realize their commitments to us,” he said. “We still have to borrow money from friends and relatives, we have to live our lives. Our [home] is not suitable to live, there are splits, winter is coming. It’s very cold.”

Along with the chill of winter, Jiang shivers over the loss of his little fifth-grader. “At 11:40 a.m., on May 13th, the second day after the quake, I finally dug out my daughter with my own hands,” he said.

The biggest pain comes from seeing the children who survived. “Watching others’ children bounce lively — they are lovely like flowers — it’s painful,” Jiang said.

“My wife suffers much more.”

Glionna is a Times staff writer.

- Los Angeles Times: China’s shifting student death toll from quake angers parents

Detained for earthquake photo posting, China teacher to serve sentence outside of labor camp


Human Rights in China (HRIC), Sep. 26, 2008-

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Liu Shaokun (刘绍坤), who was sentenced to one year of Reeducation-Through-Labor (劳动教养) (RTL) after posting online his photographs of collapsed school buildings in quake-affected areas, was released by the authorities on Wednesday, September 24, to serve his sentence outside the labor camp.

Following Liu’s sentencing in July, HRIC reported his case and urged the Chinese government to release him, which drew the attention of the international community. Liu’s family expressed gratitude to HRIC and the international community for their concern.

“It is absurd that the authorities imposed RTL on Liu merely because he attempted to document the situation in the quake-hit zone,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “Accurate and timely information about the earthquake damage is important to both reconstruction efforts and to informed responses to future earthquakes.”

Liu’s family told HRIC that, following the decision of the RTL Committee of Deyang City, Sichuan (四川德阳市劳动教养委员会), Liu returned home around 5 p.m. on September 24. He remains under residential surveillance. The police agreed to return Liu’s computer and other belongings that they confiscated.

Liu Shaokun, a teacher at Guanghan Middle School, Deyang City, Sichuan Province (四川省德阳市广汉中学), traveled to heavily hit areas after the May 12 Sichuan earthquake, took photos of collapsed school buildings, and posted them online. In a media interview, he expressed his anger at “the shoddy ‘tofu’ buildings.” Liu was detained on June 25 at his school.

On July 23, when Liu’s wife went to the Guanghan City Public Security Bureau to pick up a letter from her husband, she was told that Liu was sentenced to one year of RTL for “inciting a disturbance” (煽动闹事). Since then, Liu’s family and Liu’s work unit have been appealing for a sentence “outside the RTL camp” for Liu. On September 12, Liu’s family was told that the RTL Committee of Deyang City had finally approved their application.

As China prepares to host the 14th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering on October 12–17, 2008, HRIC urges the Chinese authorities to also immediately release Huang Qi and Zeng Hongling, who were both detained by the authorities for reporting activities following the Sichuan earthquake.

- Human Rights in China

Wife of imprisoned cyber dissident Huang Qi appeals to the international community


Reporters Without Borders, 10 September 2008-

(JPEG)

Zeng Li

After speaking yesterday with Zeng Li, the wife of imprisoned cyber-dissident Huang Qi, Reporters Without Borders today publishes a transcript of her comments, in which she appeals to the international community and describes his arrest as “unfair and unacceptable.”

Huang has been held since 10 June in Chengdu, the capital of the western province of Sichuan, for posting articles on his website 64Tianwang (www.64tianwang.com) about the humanitarian situation in the province after the 12 May earthquake and how international aid was mismanaged by the local authorities.

“Huang is the victim of the Chinese judicial system’s lack of independence,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The proceedings are not advancing and his family has no choice but to wait until the authorities deign to look at his case. His lawyer’s requests to see him are being denied, he has not been able to get any medical treatment although his health is deteriorating, and no date has been set for his trial. We support his wife’s appeal and we reiterate our call for his release.”

Huang was charged three weeks ago, on 18 July, with “illegal possession of state secrets” but he will not be allowed his first meeting with his lawyer until 18 September.

The following is a transcript of Zeng’s comments (to be heard in Chinese).

Huang Qi is a cyber-dissident and online journalist who has fought hard in recent years so that the inhabitants of Sichuan can have access to better information. He has exposed the injustices they have suffered, and none of his articles has been disputed by the authorities. During the earthquake, his work helped to improve the humanitarian situation. He did everything he could to get equipment where it was needed and to help transport relief aid. He did what any Chinese citizen would have done.

Huang Qi posted articles on his website that included statements by parents who lost their children when schools collapsed during the earthquake. This is what fueled the anger of the authorities and it was for this reason that he was arrested. He is charged with ‘illegal possession of state secrets.’ It is a totally unfair and unacceptable decision.

Various political leaders and the government have said on several occasions that the human rights situation would improve in China. But the authorities have not kept their promises and they maintain their repressive policies towards freedom of expression. And now they have taken Huang Qi’s freedom of expression away from him. It is absurd.

Huang Qi still has very violent headaches as a result of the mistreatment and torture he underwent the last time he was imprisoned. He is being held in the absence of any valid legal grounds and he is being treated in an inhumane manner that violates the basic principle of human dignity. Within Huang Qi’s family, we worry a lot about his health. Thanks to Reporters Without Borders, we hope this appeal will be heard and diplomatic means will be deployed to end this situation.

Chronology

1999: Creation of the 64Tianwang website, with the original aim of posting information about people missing in Sichuan province.

2000 – 2005: Huang is arrested on 3 June 2000 and is given a five-year prison sentence on a “subversion” charge for posting articles on his website about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre that were written by exiled dissidents. He is tortured while held in Nanchong high security prison.

2003: Reporters Without Borders and French journalist Patrick Poivre d’Arvor meet his wife and son in Chengdu (see “I know my husband is innocent” interview ).

2004 : Reporters Without Borders awards Huang its “Cyber-Freedom” prize for defending free expression and human rights online.

2005 : Huang Qi is free

20 May 2008: Huang posts an article on the 64Tianwang site criticising the Chinese media’s coverage of the earthquake: “The reports we are seeing are biased. In reality, it is very difficult for NGOs to deliver food aid. They are obliged to go through government channels. The government is using its propaganda to portray itself as a saviour to little avail. Few citizens trust the government because of the corruptions scandals that already occurred during similar disasters in the past.”

10 June 2008:
Huang is arrested by three policemen in Chengdu and is held in the city’s main prison.

10 July 2008: The police confirm to his family that the results of their investigation have been passed to the prosecutor’s office, which now has three months to reach a decision.

18 July 2008: Huang is formally charged with “illegal possession of state secrets” (see the official document).

18 September 2008:
Huang will be allowed to see his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, for the first time. All of Mo’s requests to see him have until now been refused.

- Original: Reporters Without Borders

Alert: Another significant earthquake could happen in China, say scientists


Press release, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution , Sep. 10, 2008-

Scientists say nearby faults now twice as likely to produce strong quakes

Researchers analyzing the May 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China’s Sichuan province have found that geological stress has significantly increased on three major fault systems in the region. The magnitude 7.9 quake on May 12 has brought several nearby faults closer to failure and could trigger another major earthquake in the region.

Geophysicists used computer models to calculate the changes in stress along the Xianshuihe, Kunlun, and Min Jiang faults—strike-slip faults like the San Andreas—which lie about 150 to 450 kilometers (90 to 280 miles) from the Longmen Shan rupture that caused the devastating quake. The research team also examined seismic activity in the region over the past decade.

They found that the May 12 event has doubled the probabilities of future earthquakes on these fault lines. Specifically, they estimated the probability of another earthquake of magnitude 6 or greater in the region is 57 to 71 percent over the next decade. There is an 8 to 12 percent chance of a quake larger than magnitude 7 in the next decade and 23-31 percent in the next 30 years.

The research team was led by Shinji Toda of the Geological Survey of Japan, and includes Jian Lin of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Mustapha Meghraoui of the Institute of Geophysics in Strasbourg (France), and Ross Stein of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Their findings were published September 9 in the online edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“One great earthquake seems to make the next one more likely, not less,” said Stein, who has been collaborating with Lin and Toda for nearly two decades. “We tend to think of earthquakes as relieving stress on a fault. That may be true for the one that ruptured, but not for the adjacent faults.”

In 1999, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Izmit, Turkey, was followed four months later by an M7.1 event in nearby Duzce. The devastating December 2004 Sumatra earthquake (M9.2) and tsunami were followed by an M8.7 quake three months later.

“Because the Tibetan Plateau is one of the most seismically active regions in the world, we believe there is credible evidence for a new major quake in this region,” said Lin, a senior scientist in WHOI’s Department of Geology and Geophysics. “The research community cannot forecast the timing of earthquakes, and there are still significant uncertainties in our models. But the Turkey and Sumatra events indicate that one major earthquake can indeed promote another.

Researchers see it as a domino-like effect, where the movement of one piece of Earth’s crust means that another piece must move up, down, or away. While the stress in the crust gets reduced in some locations, it is transferred to other faults nearby.

Large aftershocks that occurred on August 1 and 5 in the Sichuan region of China may fit with this predicted pattern.

“Earthquake prediction is a bit like the thundercloud and lightning,” Toda explained. “We can forecast that lightning will come from a thundercloud, but we cannot predict the exact time and place where the lightning will hit. With earthquakes, we can roughly forecast the probability of activity over broad ranges of time, magnitude, and location, but we cannot determine the exact value for any of these.”

On May 12, 2008, about 300 kilometers of the Longmen Shan fault zone ruptured in an earthquake that killed at least 69,000 people and left another 5 million homeless. It was the deadliest and strongest earthquake to hit China since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, which killed at least 240,000.

As pieces of the Longman Shan fault slipped by as much as nine meters (28 feet) in the May quake, stress increased along the neighboring Xianshuihe, Kunlun, and Min Jiang faults, according to Toda and colleagues. All three faults have a history of large quakes, though portions of each have been quiet for most of the past century. All three faults were considered to be primed for an earthquake even before the recent events.

In addition to the broad prediction of earthquake triggering, the researchers have also forecasted the rate and distribution of seismic shocks greater than magnitude 6, a prediction that they plan to test from seismic stations over the next decade.

“Our paper predicts the change in the rate of small earthquakes for the faults in the region, and now we can test that prediction,” said Stein. “If the rate of shocks increases on the adjacent faults, then we can confirm at least part of our hypothesis that large shocks are also more likely. It may take time, but it is a testable hypothesis.”

In western China, the intrusion of the Indian sub-continent pushes the Tibetan Plateau up and over the older Sichuan Basin and other parts of the Eurasian continent. An estimated 33 percent of world’s continental earthquakes occur in China, even though it only occupies 7 percent of the planet’s land mass. Nearly 55 percent of all human loss to earthquakes occurs in China.

“Earthquakes do not kill people, buildings do,” said Lin, who was a high school student in China when the devastating Tangshan earthquake struck. “There needs to be widespread education in earthquake preparedness, as well as systematic inspection of buildings in these regions of heightened risk. Every new building inspection and evacuation plan could potentially save lives.”

“We hope the long-term forecasting allows the Chinese government to make it a priority to mitigate future damage,” Toda added. “We recommend that Chinese scientists carefully observe changes in seismicity by installing new seismometers in the region.”

Lin, Toda, and Stein were preparing to teach an earthquake modeling course to Meghraoui’s students and colleagues in France when the May 12 earthquake occurred. The researchers immediately went into action, working with an international group of scientists to analyze the new stresses on the system.

An early version of the manuscript by Toda et al was circulated to several dozen Chinese scientists and government officials as they sought to assess the risk of aftershocks in the weeks after the earthquake. Chinese government organizations and scientists are now examining the paper in detail.

“The recent quake reminded us that Earth scientists have a tremendous responsibility to work on issues of societal relevance,” said Lin. “We don’t want to create panic, but there is legitimate cause for concern and we have a major role to play in educating the public about what we know.”

- Original: May 2008 earthquake in China could be followed by another significant rupture, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

China building rush may have led to weak quake schools: govt


AFP, Sep. 4, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — Schools that collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake may have been substandard structures hastily built in a construction frenzy, China conceded Thursday, as it said the death toll could top 87,000.

Ma Zongjin, director of the expert committee on the May disaster, said schools could have collapsed because their “structure was not necessarily up to standard,” and “the material was not necessarily very strong.”

“Because recently, we have built schools quite rapidly, and there could be some construction problems,” Ma told reporters.

Around 7,000 schools collapsed in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake in southwest China on May 12, often as neighbouring buildings stood intact, leading to the death of thousands of children and causing huge anger among grieving parents.

In one school alone, more than 1,300 children and teachers died or went missing.

Many angry parents are blaming poorly constructed buildings — and corruption they allege saw funds and materials siphoned off — leaving schools to be built off what they call “tofu dregs.”

More than 2,000 experts went to the quake zone to examine the issue, Ma said, and the government has promised investigations into the design of schools, and punishment for those found guilty of shoddy building work.

Authorities have not revealed exactly how many children died in the earthquake, and an official refused to answer the question on Thursday.

“Detailed data has still not been approved, we will announce it when it is approved, so now we only have data on the number of dead, missing and injured,” Shi Peijun, deputy director of the committee, said.

Shi also indicated a revised official death toll could be announced shortly.

Premier Wen Jiabao was reported by state press on Wednesday as saying that the number of dead was more than 80,000, a dramatic increase from the official toll of 69,226 dead and 17,923 missing.

“We believe that the chances that those missing are still alive are slim, and if you put over 69,000 dead and 18,000 missing together, it adds up to more than 87,000 people,” Shi said.

He said the State Council and the Disaster Relief Headquarters would soon announce a new official death toll.

- Original: AFP

Reality Check: Back to School After Southwest China Earthquake


By Wen Hua, Epoch Times Staff Sep 3, 2008-

September 4 marks 113th day since the devastating Sichuan earthquake. It also marked the back-to-school day in mainland China, and also the day China started to lift its nine-year compulsory education fee. While 11,687 schools are in need of reconstruction and the exact casualties from the collapsed school buildings remain unannounced, Sichuan local schools are required to continue charging tuition fees.

Authorities Hid School Casualties

On Sept. 1, Premier Wen Jiabao attended the opening ceremony of the temporary site of Beichuan Middle School, one of hardest hit schools by the May 12 earthquake. According to the regime’s state run media, this is Wen’s fourth visit to Beichuan Middle School but the exact school casualties due to the earthquake were not mentioned. There were originally 47 classes at the school, with 2793 students and 197 staff members. With more than 50 students a class on average, it was learned that only one or two students survived the earthquake in some classes.

On an Aug. 31 news release, the 44th by local Sichuan authorities about the Wenchuan earthquake, the Director of the Sichuan Provincial Office of Education, Tu Wentao, reported that 4,675 schools were damaged, and 3,339 schools require reconstruction in the hardest hit areas. In Sichuan Province, a total of 13,768 schools were damaged and 11,687 schools are in need of reconstruction, but no earthquake school casualties were mentioned.

School Zone Charges Tuition Despite State Policies

On Sept. 1, Chinese authorities also cancelled the tuition and fees for the nation nine-year compulsory education act that was already in effect for the rural region. An estimated 25,900 urban schools and 28.21 million students should benefit from this move. This means that the Chinese government would fulfill Wen Jiabao’s call for building a “free compulsory education both rural and urban”.

However the same day, the Epoch Times learned from a reader’s letter saying, “Premier Wen visited Mianzhu at around 3 p.m. today. What he did not know is that the Mianzhu Middle School is still charging a tuition fee of 1,100 yuan. Nanxuan Middle School is charging between 550 to 1,100 yuan per student. If the parents rejected this, they would be told to go home and say that no registration is granted without fee.”

Aftermath

According to numerous overseas media reports, a number of earthquake experts have warned the Chinese regime about the earthquake and its geographical locations. The authority hid the forecast to maintain so-called “Pre-Olympic stability.” During the rescue, the Chinese military’s efficiency and their competence were seriously criticized. Many victims died because the regime refused foreign rescue teams during the prime rescue time which is the first 72 hours after the earthquake. The May 12 earthquake claimed more than 69,000 people with nearly 18,000 still missing.

It was also learned that many relief funds went into personal accounts. For instance, Mianzhu City People’s Hospital acquired $25 million for reconstruction. The money went into the contractor’s personal account before the construction team arrived. The money was later luckily retrieved due to an early discovery.

Local governments and the department of education have made a  so-called “self-investigation” to find the responsibility for the huge number of student casualties. This was criticized by local residents that this is not in compliance with a formal investigation procedure, and that the transparency and openness of the investigation are questionable.

- Original: Back to School After Sichuan Earthquake: Reality Check, The Epochtimes

China: School Teacher Sent to Labor Camp For Posting Earthquake Photos On Internet


Human Rights in China, July 29, 2008-

Human Rights in China has learned that Liu Shaokun (刘绍坤), a Sichuan school teacher who photographed collapsed school buildings in quake-affected areas and posted his pictures online, has been ordered to serve one year of Reeducation-Through-Labor (劳动教养) (RTL). Despite making several attempts, Liu’s family has not been allowed to see him since he was detained on June 25 this year. Though authorities told the family they could see him on July 29, they were again denied a visit.

“Instead of investigating and pursuing accountability for shoddy and dangerous school buildings, the authorities are resorting to RTL to silence and lock up concerned citizens like teacher Liu Shaokun and others,” said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. “These actions further undermine human rights and the ‘peaceful Olympics’ called for by the authorities, and reflect an irresponsible callousness towards the Sichuan earthquake victims and parents of the thousands of children killed by collapsed school buildings.”

Liu, a teacher at Guanghan Middle School, Deyang City, Sichuan Province (四川省德阳市广汉中学), traveled to heavily hit areas after the May 12 Sichuan earthquake, took photos of collapsed school buildings, and put them online. In a media interview, he expressed his anger at “the shoddy ‘tofu’ buildings.” Liu was detained on June 25 at his school. At the time, authorities informed his school’s principal that Liu was being held for “disseminating rumors and destroying social order.” Authorities later told Liu’s family that he was being investigated on “suspicion of the crime of inciting subversion.” (煽动颠覆国家政权) However, the family did not receive formal notification for his detention as required under Chinese law.

On July 23, 28 days after his detention, Liu’s wife was informed that there was a letter from her husband to pick up at the Guanghan City Public Security Bureau. When she arrived, she was given a “Reeducation-Through-Labor Notice” (劳动教养通知书), which had Liu’s signature and fingerprints, but not the length of time he would serve. After Liu’s wife demanded to know how and why he was placed in RTL, she was told that Liu would serve one year for “inciting a disturbance.” (煽动闹事)

Under RTL regulations, public security authorities may issue an order to anyone to serve up to four years of RTL without trial or formal charge.

- Original: Press Release: Family Visits Still Denied to Sichuan School Teacher Punished after Quake-Zone Visit, Human Rights in China, July 29, 2008

6.1 Magnitude Quake Hits China Sichuan


By Li Xun, Epoch Times Staff Aug 1, 2008-

A quake with a magnitude of 6.1 on the Ritcher Scale hit Sichuan Province at 4.32 p.m. on August 1. The epicenter was located at the border between Pingwu County and Mianyang City, Beichuan County. Other cities that felt the earthquake included Chengdu, Xi’an, and Mianyang as well as Wenchuan and Dujiangyan, which were affected by the Sichuan earthquake in May.

According to the China’s Earthquake Network Center, the earthquake depth was about 20 kilometers. The tremor cut communication lines at the epicenter for about two hours. At least 231 casualties were reported, according to Xinhua News Agency.

A resident with last name, Zhou, from Wenchuan told The Epoch Times that he felt a powerful shake. He wanted to learn about the situation in Pingwu County but could not find any related reports.

It is reported that the Olympic torch will visit Sichuan Province around August 3-5 before arriving in Beijing for the inauguration on August 8th.

- Original: The Epochtimes