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Archive for the ‘earthquake’ Category

China’s disturbing new regulations prior to Olympic Games, increased control in quake

Posted by Author on June 11, 2008


Reporters Without Borders, 10 June 2008-

Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the introduction of new rules aimed at reinforcing controls over Chinese “fixers” working for foreign journalists and over all foreigners visiting China during the Olympic Games. The organisation also condemns an increase in police controls of foreign journalists trying to cover protests by parents whose children were killed when schools collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake.

“Any hope of seeing China calmly open up ahead of the Olympic Games is gradually vanishing,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities have introduced regulations hostile to foreigners, who are suspected of wanting to disrupt the games, and are trying to impose greater controls on Chinese citizens working for foreign reporters. And, on the Propaganda Department’s initiative, the government is restricting the work of the Chinese and international press in Sichuan.”

“These measures, just two months ahead of the inauguration of the Beijing games, are bordering on paranoia and are a long way from the One World, One Dream slogan. We urge the International Olympic Committee to put pressure on the government to rescind some of these provisions and to ensure that the international press can work freely in Sichuan.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “So far, the IOC has not reacted to these archaic regulations, preferring to issue a memo in May reminding national Olympic committees that their athletes should under no circumstances demonstrate at Olympic sites.”

Control of Chinese fixers

Chinese citizens working for foreign news media must now comply with new rules designed to get them to register with the authorities. Reporters Without Borders has obtained a copy of the new rules, which were distributed by the CIECCO, a state entity that is supposed to help foreign companies, including news media, to find Chinese employees.

The Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) has been insisting since January 2007 that the foreign media recruit professionals chosen by official intermediaries as translators. The latest rules want all Chinese working for the foreign media to be registered and suggest that the authorities should “select and name appropriate candidates” for the foreign media.

If foreign journalists want to propose their own candidates, they must provide an ID, a curriculum vitae, evidence of no criminal record and a medical certificate. And a contract must be signed between employer and employee.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China told Reporters Without Borders that “hiring and registering assistants through government service agencies potentially increases bureaucracy, expense and oversight by the authorities.” The FCCC hopes the foreign media will eventually be able to hire Chinese as journalists, photographers or cameramen, but for the time being that is not allowed.

Reporters Without Borders has also learned of a directive issued by the BOCOG media centre’s visa division telling journalists to submit precise information about coverage plans in China, including the places they want to visit and the people they want to interview, in order to obtain a J-2 visa, which is for media personnel who want to arrive before the 8 August start of the games. The BOCOG also requires a letter from an employer, which effectively eliminates freelancers.

These new provisions come at a time when the issuing of multiple-entry visas is being restricted and obtaining tourist or business visas is taking much longer, even through Hong Kong. The government refuses to explain this tougher policy, which seems to be linked to fear of demonstrations during the games.

Call to order for foreigners

The BOCOG issued a set of guidelines for foreigners visiting the games on 2 June. In a question-and-answer format and so far only in Chinese, the guidelines tell foreigners they “must respect Chinese laws while in China and must not harm China’s national security or damage the social order.”

They say “terrorists,” sex workers, drug traffickers, people suffering from AIDS or tuberculosis and “subversives” are banned from entering China. Some of the guidelines directly target those who would like to demonstrate during the games. “Public gatherings, marches and demonstrations cannot take place without prior permission from the police.” They also restrict freedom of opinion, forbidding foreigners from bringing with them documents, disks or audio recordings critical of China.

Media obstructed in Sichuan

Because of the anger of the parents of children killed in schools in Sichuan, the authorities have tended to obstruct the work of the foreign media in the province. On 6 June, two Agence France-Presse journalists were prevented from entered Wufu, a city where demonstrations took place after a primary school collapsed.

Foreign reporters were briefly detained and expelled on 5 June from Juyuan and Hanwang, two towns where schools collapsed. Photographers were removed from a demonstration by about 100 parents in Dujiangyan on 3 June, and a reporter and photographer from the Japanese news agency Kyodo were detained for several hours. According to the FCCC, two Dutch journalists were stopped by the police when they tried to go to Dujiangyan.

The Chinese press has been forbidden to cover the collapsed schools story freely. Chinese journalists told the New York Times that the order came from Beijing. The website of the Hong Kong-based China Media Project (http://cmp.hku.hk/) reported that the Guangdong province Communist Party’s propaganda ordered the local media to pull their journalists out of Sichuan. The site also reported that Li Changchun, the Communist Party’s propaganda chief, went to Sichuan.

The public security department has been told to put a stop to the “illegal gatherings” and to pressure the families of victims to stop talking to the foreign press. State media propaganda continues to praise the government’s efforts. State-owned CCTV’s website even went so far as to portray a demonstration in homage to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989 as a homage to the victims of the 12 May earthquake.

Finally, BOCOG intransigence on security issues is giving rise to tension with international TV stations that acquired broadcasting rights. The Associated Press reported on 8 June that there were angry tensions at a meeting in Beijing at the end of May between the BOCOG, the IOC and international TV stations over China’s refusal to permit live coverage of events in certain places such as Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, and delays in granting permission for broadcast equipment.

– Original from Reporters Without Borders: Disturbing new regulations prior to Olympic Games, increased control in Sichuan

Posted in Beijing Olympics, censorship, China, disaster, earthquake, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Press freedom, Sichuan, Social, Speech, Sports, SW China, World | Comments Off on China’s disturbing new regulations prior to Olympic Games, increased control in quake

China Cracks Down on Earthquake Protest, 100 Grieving Parents Dragged Away

Posted by Author on June 3, 2008


Tania Branigan in Beijing, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday June 3 2008-

Chinese police dragged away more than 100 parents as they protested today over the deaths of their children in schools which collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake.

Officers in Dujiangyan bundled away sobbing mothers clutching pictures of their sons and daughters, according to the Japanese news agency in Kyodo.

The Associated Press said the parents were kneeling in front of the courthouse yelling “We want to sue”, when police began to pull them down the street. Their children were among the 270 students who died at Juyuan school.

As many as 9,000 pupils and teachers died in schools destroyed in the disaster, according to figures compiled by Reuters. The government’s promise to investigate whether substandard building linked to corruption was to blame has yet to allay families’ outrage and wider public concern.

The incident is thought to be the first sustained attempt to halt or disrupt widespread demonstrations by families angry at their children’s deaths. At least one other protest appears to have taken place in Sichuan today – although at the ruins of a school, rather than the more prominent location chosen by the Juyuan parents.

A senior Chinese leader, Li Changchun, was touring other parts of Dujiangyan today.

The local police did not answer calls and the information department twice refused to take calls from the Guardian.

An official from the local government, Zao Ming, told AP: “This is not a good place to do interviews. … In a disaster like this, there will be a lot of opinions. The government will solve their problems.”

AP said its reporter and two photographers covering the protest were dragged into the courthouse by police trying to prevent them from seeing the demonstration. They were held inside, along with two Japanese reporters, and questioned for half an hour before they were permitted to leave.

A witness quoted by AP said police told parents: “The Japanese are reporting bad things about you.” …… (more details from The Guardian: Chinese police break up protest of grieving parents)

Posted in Children, China, disaster, earthquake, Family, Law, Life, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, Student, SW China, World | 1 Comment »

(photo) China ignored quake warnings, provincial chief fell on knees to pleads with the protesting parents

Posted by Author on June 2, 2008


Michael Sheridan in Mianzhu, China, The Times Online, UK, June 1, 2008-

Mianzhu, China- Chinese officials ignored warnings from five eminent seismologists that a strong earthquake would strike the mountainous province of Sichuan this year, including one forecast that almost exactly predicted the date of the tremor that killed more than 68,000 people.

The government appeared to be trying to suppress evidence of the warnings last week and none of the seismologists could be traced for an interview.

News of the warnings, disclosed on a Chinese scientist’s blog, has created a storm of criticism on the internet and deepened the rage of bereaved parents in ruined towns such as Mianzhu, where schools had collapsed on their pupils.

Sichuan journalists even dared to question the head of the State Earthquake Bureau. They demanded to know if it was true that the forecasts were dismissed because officials did not want anything to disturb preparations for the Olympic torch relay to pass through this month.

The journalists got no answer and there has since been little mention of the warnings in the official media; but there is no doubt that the documents cited are authentic.

The first forecast came in a highly technical article published by four seismologists in September 2006 in China’s Journal of Catastrophology.

The four, Long Xiaoxia, Yan Junping, Sun Hu and Wang Zuzheng, calculated that stress factors along the Sichuan-Tibet tectonic fault indicated that a quake measuring above 6.7 on the Richter scale would strike this year. They suggested the government should set up emergency headquarters and organise local disaster teams to train city dwellers and farmers in how to protect themselves.

There is no evidence anything was done. But the seismologists were not available to explain why. “You’re a journalist?” said an official at their university, contacted by telephone. “They are not supposed to accept any interviews, so just give up the idea.”

The fifth expert to issue a warning is said to be in seclusion, afflicted by heartache over the loss of so many children. Geng Qingguo, a renowned seismologist, had come out of retirement to present his dire predictions to a meeting of specialists on April 26 and 27.

Geng outlined his calculations that an earthquake of more than 7 on the Richter scale would occur along the boundaries of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. He even predicted that the most likely date would be within 10 days of May 8.

The scientist dispatched a copy of his findings to the State Earthquake Bureau in Beijing on April 30. Once again, nothing seems to have been done.

The quake struck with a Richter scale force of 7.9 on May 12.

None of this would be known but for the fact that one of Geng’s colleagues, Li Shihui of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, disclosed the whole story in his blog after the earthquake.

“His opinion was not accepted by the State Earthquake Bureau,” Li wrote, “and when he heard of the Sichuan earthquake he tried to cry, yet no tears would come, so heavy was his heart.”

Neither Li nor Geng is now available for comment, as the public anger intensifies. Access to the blog has been blocked by web censors.

“Yes, Dr Li used to be a researcher in our laboratory,” confirmed a woman official at the academy. “After the earthquake he published some articles that caused a big argument. But he has retired and we do not have his phone number. That is all I can tell you.”

Li’s rapid retirement appears to have come after the publication of an article detailing his blog and both sets of warnings by a veteran journalist, Ching Cheong, the chief China correspondent for The Straits Times of Singapore. “We do not know why the authorities chose not to act,” said Ching. “Some attributed it to the Olympics frenzy.”

Ching’s story was translated into Chinese and circulated on the internet, setting off a fire-storm of abuse from citizens.

It hurt most of all in places such as Mianzhu, where theJiang Guohua, the communist chief in Mianzhu, pleads with the protesting parents of children buried Communist party secretary, Jiang Guohua, fell on his knees before anguished parents to implore them to abandon a protest march last week. Their children were among an estimated 9,000 to die when poorly built schools collapsed on them.

(photo: Jiang Guohua, the communist chief in Mianzhu, pleads with the protesting parents of children buried when their school collapsed/ from Times Online)

Mianzhu is populated by thousands of people living in tents among the ruins of its buildings. “A hundred people died in there,” said a local woman, Zhang Bing, 23, pointing to a bulldozer that gnawed at the rubble of a supermarket on the main square, where several bodies still lay entombed.

On one level the city of 500,000 exemplified the virtuous storyline that now appears mandatory for the state media. Nobody sat listless or idle in Mianzhu. Its citizens manifested the entrepreneurial resilience of the Chinese people. Shopkeepers busily erected stalls to peddle wares hauled from their wrecked premises. Families organised themselves to keep tents clean and neat.

An orderly queue formed to collect free hot rice, supplemented by meat and vegetables cooked by individuals. There had been not one instance of looting, people said.

Corporate China has piled in to the rescue alongside the state. China Mobile set up relay dishes and sold cheap mobile phones. Banks dispensed cash. China Post was even sorting the mail at an improvised outdoor centre.

On the outskirts of town, at least 20,000 souls congregated in a tent camp supervised by the People’s Liberation Army. It included an outdoor hospital where doctors and nurses continue to toil over broken bones and sickly old folk.

However, on another level Mianzhu could become a barometer of public opinion, as the initial shock or relief give way to more complex feelings.

Jiang, the local party secretary, explained the risks in a frank interview with China’s Nanfang Weekend newspaper. “At first I relied on my rank as party secretary to request those parents not to go to the streets with their protests,” he said. “But they turned a deaf ear to me and even the police couldn’t stop them.

“So I got on my knees, not because I was ashamed but because I was thinking of the hundreds of thousands of people in this city who are homeless, short of clothes and food, so that any protest like this could cause mass unrest. That’s been my biggest worry since the earthquake.”

Undaunted, the parents are discussing a march to Chengdu, the provincial capital. They have been banned from travelling on buses by the party secretary. One of them, Li Yan, said: “He’s always lied to us and tried to cover up the real situation.”

– Original from Times Online: Chinese officials ignored quake warnings

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, Human Rights, Incident, Life, News, People, Politics, Protest, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | 1 Comment »

China: 100 unidentified radioactive sources to move below quake lake

Posted by Author on June 1, 2008


AFP, May 30, 2008-

DUJIANGYAN, China (AFP) — China rushed Friday to remove radioactive and chemical materials sitting downstream from a “quake lake” that threatens to burst and send torrents of water into heavily populated areas.

Nearly 100 unidentified radioactive sources were ordered to be removed by Friday evening from the path of the potential torrent of water, state press reported, citing the nation’s environmental protection bureau.

“Moving those radioactive sources has become a top, urgent priority,” the Beijing Times quoted Ma Ning, a senior regional official at the bureau, as saying.

The directive to move the radioactive material came as authorities were already working to relocate about 5,000 tonnes of dangerous chemicals that were downstream of the lake at Tangjiashan.

Dealing with the “quake lake” has become one of the key challenges in the aftermath of the May 12 earthquake that devastated large tracts of mountainous Sichuan province, killing more than 68,500 people.

The lake was created when landslides triggered by the quake created a dam across a river in a valley.

Helicopters have been used to airlift supplies to hundreds of soldiers working to create a channel that can drain the lake, which contains enough water to fill over 50,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

After three days of non-stop efforts, the soldiers had dug a 50-metre (164-foot) wide channel 300 metres long, but despite the frantic pace the work would not be completed until next Thursday, the state-run China Daily reported.

More than a million people risk being affected if the Tanjiashan lake empties onto towns and villages downstream, and many residents have been doing regular drills to move quickly to higher ground.

By Saturday morning, close to 200,000 people were expected to have been evacuated from the area, the state-run China International Radio said Friday evening.

However, it was not the only area of Sichuan at risk. There were 33 other lakes created by the quake, 28 of which were at risk of bursting, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Other unexpected dangers also continued to arise amid the massive task of looking after the 15 million people made homeless in the quake.

Gas from a chemical fire in Leigu town, near the epicentre of the quake, poisoned four people and forced more than 800 to evacuate on Thursday, Xinhua reported, citing a local official.

The fire occurred when bleach powder, used as a disinfectant, self-ignited when it reacted with leaked rainwater, said Song Ming, Communist Party secretary for Beichuan county, one of the worst-hit areas.

The dense chlorine gas poisoned two rescue soldiers and two medical workers, who were taken to hospital, according to Xinhua.

No one was available at the environmental protection bureau on Friday to comment on the report about the radioactive sources that were being cleared.

But previous reports in the state press said these sources could emanate from machines used to test defects in the construction of bridges or boats, or from X-ray machines.

There were also several nuclear installations not used for electricity generation in areas near the epicentre of the quake, according to the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) in France.

These included a manufacturing site for nuclear weapons, as well as a nuclear reactor.

The government said last week that nuclear facilities and radioactive sites in Sichuan province were “safe and controllable.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said late Friday that authorities had dispatched thousands of people to inspect businesses in quake-hit areas, finding some with possible environmental risks.

Of 14,357 companies, including some 2,900 chemical firms, surveyed in Sichuan province, inspectors found 134 potential risks, Xinhua news agency said, quoting a statement on the ministry’s website on Friday.

Nearly 30 of the potential risks had been dealt with.

The ministry also said the province’s environmental quality remained stable and water was acceptable for drinking.

The death toll from the quake has reached 68,558, with another 18,618 missing, the government said Friday. Some 15 million people have been displaced in the disaster.

– Afp: China rushes to clear radioactive materials below quake lake

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, Environment, Health, Life, News, Nuclear, pollution, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on China: 100 unidentified radioactive sources to move below quake lake

China Experts Predicted the Earthquake Three Times

Posted by Author on May 28, 2008


By Zhu Jianguo, The Epoch Times, May 23, 2008-Chen Yiwen, an advisor of the Committee of Natural Hazard Prediction

Was there any prediction of the recent earthquake in China? The person in charge of the China Seismological Bureau told the media, “They did not receive any prediction, it is impossible to predict earthquakes.” However, Chen Yiwen, an advisor of the Committee of Natural Hazard Prediction (CNHP) said, “This is a lie.”

Chen stated on a China Central Television (CCTV) program, “China Seismological Bureau cannot shake off its responsibility for the earthquake.”

At about 3:00 p.m. on May 18, 2008, Chen explained to The Epoch Times the related background in a phone interview, and then forwarded a simple memorandum through email.

(photo: Chen Yiwen, an advisor of the Committee of Natural Hazard Prediction / Zhu Jiangua/The Epoch Times)

On May 14, 2008, Chinese Central TV Station Channel Nine (CCTV9) held a talk show about the Wenchuan earthquake. The program host Yang Rui interviewed Chen by phone during the program.

Chen commented, “The China Seismological Bureau cannot shake its responsibility!” The CNHP has offered the China Seismological Bureau predictions on three different occasions about the possibility of a strong earthquake in the Wenchuan area since 2006. Especially on May 3, 2008, Chen personally sent the prediction report to the China Seismological Bureau.”

Serious Predictions Received No Consideration

According to Chen, there have been other scientists also providing predictions of strong quakes in the Wenchuan area to the China Seismological Bureau. However, these serious scientific predictions received no consideration. The leaders of the China Seismological Bureau and the director of the Institute of Earthquake Prediction have never interviewed experts of CNHP. They have never acquainted themselves with its earthquake prediction work.

“It is a lie that the leaders of the China Seismological Bureau claimed that they’ve never received any predictions,” said Chen.

Although Chen’s interview was removed when the program was rebroadcast in the evening, the afternoon interview was broadcast live. So the information revealed by Chen has been exposed to the world through CCTV.

Chen added that the locational variance between the actual epicenter and their prediction is only one degree in longitude. Chen welcomes all media and websites to reprint his views from the website http://cheniwan.sea3000.net .

Distinguished Researchers

It is said that the CNHP has a group of well-known experts who accurately forecasted the Tangshan earthquake in 1976, such as professor Guo Zengjian, Wang Chengmin, Qiang Zuji, and Geng Qingguo, vice researcher Huang Xiangning, researcher Xu Daoyi, Xu Haomin, Zhang Wanghou, Zeng Xiaoping, Qian Fuye, and Zhao Yulin, and earthquake prediction expert, Sun Wei, to name a few.

– Original report from The Epochtimes: Chinese Experts Predicted the Earthquake Three Times

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, intellectual, Life, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, Speech, SW China, World | Comments Off on China Experts Predicted the Earthquake Three Times

Canada earthquake rescuers heading back to China after refused entry for one week

Posted by Author on May 21, 2008


The Canadian Press, Canada, May. 20, 2008-

RED DEER, Alta. — Members of a determined Canadian rescue team plan to return to China after initially being refused permission to enter the area devastated by a massive earthquake.

Jet-lagged and disappointed, the searchers from Alberta returned home from Hong Kong late Monday after waiting for a week because they couldn’t get the necessary visas to travel to the stricken Sichuan province.

Less than 12 hours later, leader Marcel Schur was told that Chinese officials have cleared up bureaucratic red tape and his team is free to travel to Sichuan to help look for survivors of the quake, which has claimed more than 40,000 lives.

“We are waiting for confirmation, but the Chinese government has given us permission and has asked for us to come back there and join in the effort,” Schur said Tuesday.

“For us to be sure that we are going to be allowed in, we are going to ask for the visas to be issued in Calgary.”

Dealing with Chinese officials last week was frustrating for the five men and three women on the team, who pay most of their own operating and travel expenses.

Schur said it was hard to watch news reports on television about all the death and destruction as the Canadian searchers waited in vain for credentials. Officials estimate the quake destroyed the homes of five million people.

“It was crazy. Everywhere you went they threw another loophole: ‘You have to do this now. You have to do that,”‘ he said.

“It was pretty tough. Your hearts are just bleeding for these people.”

The Canadian and British consulates finally advised the rescuers that the Chinese government was too bogged down to help, so they decided to leave.

Schur and his colleagues are members of the Canadian Rescue Team, part of a larger group called American Rescue Team International.

Doug Copp, a spokesman for the American organization, said the bureaucratic logjam also prompted a British rescue team to head back to the United Kingdom.

Copp said team members have specialized training in what he called urban heavy rescue. Once in China they will be deployed wherever the need is greatest.

“We will do whatever it takes in order to save those children’s lives,” Copp said……. (more details from The Canadian Press: Canadian rescuers heading back to China after refused entry to earthquake zone)

Posted in Canada, China, disaster, earthquake, Life, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | 1 Comment »

China’s Grieving Quake Parents Voice Anger

Posted by Author on May 21, 2008


By Chris Buckley, Reuters, May 20, 2008-

JUYUAN, China (Reuters) – Zhao Deqin keeps a kerbside memorial to her twin daughters killed when their school collapsed in China’s earthquake, and a petition-signing site alongside that has become a focus of protest by grieving parents.

The most lamented victims of the quake that shattered parts of Sichuan province in southwest China eight days ago have been the thousands of children killed when school buildings collapsed.

The fragility of schools that crumpled into bloody piles has aroused widespread claims that corruption had fatally compromised building strength. Now Zhao and many other parents left grieving by one notorious collapse, at Juyuan town, have launched meetings and petitions to demand redress.

As the ruling Communist Party seeks to maintain a staunch front of unity and stability after the quake, the incipient protests by parents could be troublesome, for many of them blame official graft and laxity, more than nature, for the deaths.

“We want a memorial day for the children, but we also want criminal prosecution of those responsible, no matter who they are,” said Zhao, 44, as she lit incense on the shrine featuring a photo of her two girls clutching a Snoopy doll.

“How come all the houses didn’t fall down, but the school did? And how come that happened in so many places?”

The memorial down a quake-battered alley in this small town also displayed fruit, white paper mourning flowers, and a small bag of powdery concrete taken from the school.

“This will be evidence at a trial. This is what killed them,” said Zhao, tapping the bag. Her ruined shop stood behind the shrine.

SEEKING PUNISHMENT

Hundreds of grieving parents in Juyuan have met and circulated petitions demanding an annual memorial day for their dead children, punishment of officials or builders responsible for shoddy schools, and compensation, Zhao and others said.

Zhao’s 15-year-old daughters, Yajia and Yaqi, attended Juyuan Middle School and were in a six-level building of classrooms that collapsed, killing some 500 or more of the school’s 1,300 pupils.

The quake struck in mid-afternoon, when many children were at their desks. Dozens of other schools also collapsed, quite a few while neighboring buildings stayed upright and relatively safe.

China held a memorial day for victims of the quake on Monday, and officials have promised no mercy for anyone found responsible for shoddy school buildings.

On Tuesday, dozens of parents whose children were killed in the Juyuan school collapse said that was not enough.

They had gathered to put signatures and red-inked thumb prints on what seemed to be one of several circulating draft petitions, expressing demands that had yet to be finalized.

Asked what they wanted most, nearly all said they sought official recognition that the children’s deaths were due to more than random natural destruction.

“This was a tofu dregs project and the government should assume responsibility,” said Pu Changxue, whose son Pu Tong died crushed in a classroom. Pu was referring to the messy remnants left over when making tofu, or beancurd, a common Chinese term for shoddy workmanship and poor materials.

“We all know that earthquakes are natural disasters. But what happened to our children also has human causes, and they’re even more frightening,” he said.

Families said they had also gone to the town government, but officials have begged for patience while they cope with the emergency demands of the massive quake.

Other residents watched the gathered parents, voicing sympathy. Many said they knew Zhao’s twins — lively, attractive girls who seemed destined for show business.

“To think that I lived and they died,” said an old woman living opposite Zhao’s shrine. “That is just too unfair.”

– Reuters: China’s grieving quake parents start to voice anger

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, Law, Life, News, People, Social, World | Comments Off on China’s Grieving Quake Parents Voice Anger

Japanese Rescuers Sad to Leave China: Move Twice in 4 days, Found No Survivors

Posted by Author on May 21, 2008


Takeru Makino / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer, Japan, May. 21, 2008-

CHENGDU, China– The leader of the Japanese rescue team dispatched to seek survivors of the May 12 earthquake in southwest China said Tuesday the team did its best, but regretted leaving the area struck by the massive temblor without saving any survivors.

“It was unfortunate we weren’t able to get to work immediately after the earthquake,” Takashi Koizumi, 57, said at a press conference held Tuesday morning at a hotel in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province.

Koizumi, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Overseas Disaster Assistance Division, leads 60 elite specialists sent from the Foreign Ministry, the National Police Agency, the Japan Coast Guard, the Tokyo Fire Department and Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The 32-member team brought with it high-tech rescue equipment, such as radar detectors that can locate survivors. But the team was only able to arrive at the afflicted areas after the 72-hour window in which people can realistically be expected to be rescued.

After reaching the afflicted area Friday, the team recovered about 20 bodies, but could not find any survivors.

At the press conference, Koizumi said: “I found some Chinese authorities were unaccustomed to dealing with a rescue team from a foreign country. We were unable to obtain some of the information we needed.”

“At the afflicted areas, I saw things that are difficult to describe in words.” Koizumi said. “But our activities were restricted in such areas.”

Koizumi said the team had done what needed to be done. However, he also said all the team members wanted to stay in the area and continue relief operations.

A member staying at the hotel said he had been able to sleep well for the first time in days.

“I’m not yet ready to explain my feelings [about leaving here without rescuing any survivors],” he said.

The hotel staff warned the team early Tuesday morning that a huge aftershock might strike the region.

“It’s difficult for me to leave here in such a situation,” he said.

After the press conference, all the members moved to another hotel to meet with Huang Yanrong, vice governor of Sichuan Province.

“You’ve won respect from Chinese citizens by conducting operations to the best of your abilities for five days, battling difficulties and dangers,” Huang said.

No lives saved

The limited achievements of the Japanese rescue team in a harsh environment showed the difficulty of international cooperation.

The team had to move twice in four days after reaching the quake-hit area. With time wasted traveling, members were able to search for survivors for only about two days. The team had to travel about 460 kilometers by car after arriving in Sichuan Province.

The rescue team reached Guanzhuang district in Qingchuan County of the province at about 10 a.m. Friday. However, team members discovered the area had been battered by landslides. Koizumi decided his team should move from the area because the team is specialized in urban disasters and was not equipped to handle the situation.

The team reached the Qiaozhuang district shortly after 4 p.m. and began search-and-rescue operations at the site of a collapsed hospital. Team members searched for survivors throughout the night, but were only able to find the bodies of a woman and her child.

On Saturday, the team moved to Qushan district in Beichuan County after another 29 members joined the team. Together, they conducted rescue activities at collapsed houses and a middle school building. They were able to recover the bodies of 14 people, but found no survivors.

The team was told to withdraw from the area to Chengdu at about 1 p.m. Monday. All the members, who had been waiting to move to another afflicted area, looked disappointed to hear the instruction. “There are still lots of things we can do in the disaster area,” one member told The Yomiuri Shimbun.

– Details from Yomiuri Shimbun: Japanese rescuers sad to leave China

Posted in Chengdu, China, disaster, earthquake, Life, News, People, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on Japanese Rescuers Sad to Leave China: Move Twice in 4 days, Found No Survivors

China: House Church Christians Detained for bible study and earthquake aid

Posted by Author on May 20, 2008


China Aid Association (CAA), Inc. May 20, 2008-

Guizhou Province- CAA has learned that on March 15, 2008, several house church members were gathered at the home of Wu Yaohua in Erli Village, Xishui County, Guizhou Province, when several police officials disrupted their meeting and ordered the members to stop their activities. The officials confiscated hymn books and leaflets from the house church.

Police officials disrupted the church meeting again on March 29. One of the house church members, Wu Guangqing, began to argue the legality of the gathering by reading to the officials the law and regulations regarding citizen’s rights of Religious freedom. The officials ignored his remarks and confiscated Bibles, flashlights, and the book of law and regulations that Wu had read from.

Two of the church members, Wu Xinquan and Wu Guangqing were summoned to the Erli Police Station. Two more members, Li Shizhen and Zhang Shaolin were taken by force in the afternoon of the same day.

The members were detained and charged with “participation in an evil cult”. Family members of those detained were informed of the charge and told to take legal action if they so desired. Police officials failed to give proper documentation concerning the arrest and detentions. Four house church leaders were detained for 15 days under the charge of “disturbing the social order”. All four were released at 8:30am on May 20.

According to sources the names of those detained are: Wu Guangqing-65 Li Shizhen-53, elementary school teacher Zhang Shaolin-58, and Wu Xinquan-65. Li Shizhen has been arrested several times before, and in 2000 was sentenced to 2 years reeducation through labor. All 4 leaders were forced to pay 1500 Yuan for their meals while in detention. The families of 2 of the leaders were able to help pay the fine, however the other two were not able to afford the penalty. The house church plans on filing an administrative lawsuit against the Erli Police officials for illegal detention.

This case is yet another incident revealing the pretentiousness of this Government’s policy on tolerance and religious freedom. In no way were these church members afforded fair or adequate treatment concerning proper legal procedure which is a constitutional right afforded to all Chinese citizens. CAA and its supporters call for the members of the Erli house church to be adequately and fairly recompensed for the injustices done to them by corrupt Government Officials.

CAA has also learned that Government officials have turned away and also arrested some house church members who have volunteered to help those who have been affected by the recent devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province. These actions are comparable to the recent events in Myanmar, where the ruling Junta refused free aid while thousands of victims suffered without food or shelter. Such biased behavior is a reminder of the irrational prejudice the CPC holds against house church members who want nothing more than to have true religious freedom and help their fellow countrymen in this hour of need. CAA will continue to monitor the situation.

Issued by CAA May 20, 2008: House Church Members Detained in Guizhou Province/ Government Officials arrest volunteer House Church earthquake aid workers

Posted in China, Christianity, disaster, earthquake, Freedom of Belief, Guizhou, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Religion, Religious, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on China: House Church Christians Detained for bible study and earthquake aid

China comes to standstill as quake toll hits 71,000

Posted by Author on May 19, 2008


AFP, May. 18, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — More than 71,000 people are dead, buried or missing in southwest China’s Sichuan province following last week’s earthquake, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the top provincial leader as saying Monday.

The number of people confirmed killed in the province as of late Sunday is 32,173, Sichuan Communist Party chief Liu Qibao said, according to Xinhua.

Another 9,509 people remained buried and 29,418 others were missing, Liu said.

The new toll was announced as China came to a standstill on Monday exactly one week after its earthquake tragedy, observing three minutes of silence to mourn the tens of thousands of people killed in the disaster……. (more details from AFP)

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China blocks entry to UK rescuers

Posted by Author on May 18, 2008


BBC News, 17 May 2008-

A UK search and rescue team who flew to China after the earthquake have been denied visas and forced to return home without being able to help.

The International Rescue Corps team arrived in Hong Kong with specialist search equipment on Wednesday.

But for reasons that remain unclear, the 10-strong UK team and a Canadian group were blocked from entering China.

China has sent 50,000 troops to Sichuan province to search for survivors of the earthquake, which has killed 28,000.

‘Every possible route’

International Rescue Corps (IRC) team member Derek Jolly, 38, told the BBC News website that the team had initially been promised visas, “but when we arrived, suddenly the game had changed”.

He said the team, which is voluntary and funded by donations, had “gone down every possible diplomatic and political route” with no success.

“What was disappointing for us was the Chinese government sent out a kit list with their initial request for help, saying this is what we need,” said Mr Jolly.

“We then sent them a message through the consulate saying we have pretty much everything on the list.”

The team brought with them specialist equipment including carbon dioxide probes and sonic equipment for listening to people in voids in buildings.

Mr Jolly said he could not be certain of the reason why the team was denied entry, but suggested a possible reason was a lack of infrastructure at the earthquake zone for foreign rescue teams……. (more details from BBC News)

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, UK, World | 2 Comments »

China quake victims fear burst of lake bank

Posted by Author on May 17, 2008


BBC News, 17 May 2008-People sought refuge on the hills surrounding the destroyed city

There has been panic in the quake-hit Chinese city of Beichuan after reports the entire city could be flooded by a river bursting its banks.

The BBC’s Paul Danahar in Beichuan says there was a stampede as thousands of people fled to higher ground.

The whole city was evacuated, forcing the suspension of all rescue efforts, our correspondent says.

(photo: People sought refuge on the hills surrounding the destroyed city/BBC News)

Beichuan is close to the epicentre of Monday’s devastating quake, in which it is feared about 50,000 people died.

On Saturday the number of confirmed deaths rose to 28,881. The Chinese authorities say that about five million people have been made homeless by the disaster.

Our correspondent in Beichuan says the city went from a scene of rescue and relief into mayhem.

“Everybody just ran – rescuers, army relief teams, medical workers and locals – and people who were in the process of being rescued had to be left behind.

“We were in the process of filming a man about to be pulled out after hours of digging and the rescue team had to abandon him and run.”

The Xinhua news agency warned that a lake, formed by landslides blocking a river, “may burst its bank at any time”.

However, the authorities later said the city was not under threat from the water.

Our correspondent returned to the heart of the city as the rescue effort resumed, but he says the majority of people are remaining on the surrounding hillsides.

“It is not surprising,” he says. “This entire community has been shaken to its core, they are surrounded by unstable buildings which threaten to topple at any moment, and the people have been deeply traumatised by what has happened.”…… (more details from BBC News:  China quake victims flee ‘flood’)

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, News, People, Sichuan, SW China, World | 1 Comment »

Some foreign rescuers allowed to get in to China 4 days after quake

Posted by Author on May 16, 2008


DUJIANGYAN, China (AFP) — Foreign rescue teams arrived in China’s quake-devastated southwest on Friday, laden with specialist equipment to aid the desperate search among the rubble of shattered buildings.

A Japanese team began work in Sichuan province, the first time the Chinese government has accepted foreign professionals for a domestic disaster rescue and relief operation.

They were followed by rescue workers from Russia, Singapore and South Korea, state media said. Teams were also heading in from Hong Kong and from Taiwan, which China considers a territory awaiting reunification.

But experts warned that time was running out, as one British search and rescue team struggled to get permission to enter China.

A team of 31 Japanese rescuers, accompanied by sniffer dogs, arrived Friday in the town of Guanzhuang of Qingchuan county, an isolated area near the mountainous border with Gansu province where 700 people are believed buried.

“We want to do our best to rescue as many people as possible,” a member of the rescue team, wearing an orange and blue worksuit, told Japan’s TV Asahi network when they arrived in Sichuan.

The group’s first job was to try to rescue three people trapped under the debris of a six-storey hospital of traditional Chinese medicine that had collapsed, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Needless to say, time is running out. We want to speed up our efforts to save people’s lives with cooperation with the Chinese side,” a foreign ministry official said in Tokyo.

About 40 rescuers from South Korea’s National Emergency Management Agency arrived on Friday, along with two sniffer dogs and “state-of-the-art” search technology.

Their equipment includes digital endoscope cameras which can be inserted into building cracks to seek out any survivors, the agency said in a statement.

The Singapore team brought life detector systems and hydraulic cutters and spreaders, it said.

The decision to accept the rescuers signals an apparent shift by Beijing, which initially had politely rebuffed such offers despite clearly struggling to reach many devastated communities cut off by quake-damaged roads.

In previous disasters, such as the Tangshan earthquake of 1976 which killed more than 240,000 people, China even refused offers of aid from abroad, insisting the money was more needed elsewhere.

Despite the unprecedented access, 10 members of British-based International Rescue Corps were still in Hong Kong Friday trying to secure permission to enter the mainland.

“Realistically, we are now on day five and you have to ask how long people can survive,” the charity’s director Willie McMartin told AFP when asked if they would still enter China if they faced further delays.

McMartin said the 10-member team, which arrived in Hong Kong Wednesday night, had hoped to get a flight on Friday evening to Sichuan’s capital Chengdu, but they had been forced to abandon the plans as they were still awaiting permission.

He said British embassy officials in Beijing were helping to try to secure visas from Chinese authorities, and they would reassess on Saturday.

– Original report from AFP: Foreign rescuers at work in China quake area

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News Censorship of China Sichuan Earthquake

Posted by Author on May 16, 2008


donga.com, South Korea, MAY 16, 2008-

The earthquake coverage by the Chinese media is a world away from the past where they were eager to sweep under the carpet whenever negative news broke due to the government control.

TV footages have shown the flattened towns and distressful scenes of affected areas. However, western news outlets show mixed responses. Some regard this shift in the Chinese media coverage as “a sign of openness,” while others criticize China has still a long way to go.

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that authoritarian governments tend to cover up disastrous incidents. The newspaper gave good marks to the vividness and diversity of the Chinese media coverage of the earthquake.

The newspaper also reported that the Communist Party’s supreme Politburo Standing Committee instructed each news agency within hours of the occurrence of the quake not to dispatch journalists to the disaster scenes but to cite state-controlled CCTV and Xinhua news agency. But that order wasn’t followed.

Every disaster zone was bustled with journalists and the central government agency had to withdraw the censorship plan. Instead, it ordered that all frontline coverage of the disaster should “uphold unity and encourage stability” while “giving precedence to positive propaganda.”

The New York Times also positively evaluated the media response to the Chinese government yesterday, saying Beijing was better in handling the situation compared to what Washington did to deal with Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The newspaper said, “In the age of the Internet, the Chinese leadership is aware that the old methods of blanket censorship are not effective,” quoting a Chinese expert.

However, the Financial Times displayed a critical viewpoint to the Chinese government’s media censorship. It said in its May 15 edition, “The party still holds to the Maoist tenet that power depends on control of “two barrels”: that of the gun and the pen.”

This newspaper reported that since the media coverage control instruction on May 13, there have been some changes in the Chinese media’s attitude in delivering the stories.

Government news agencies have missed no opportunity to highlight a tour of the earthquake zone by Premier Wen Jiabao and highlighted touching stories of soldiers and police officers who made sacrifices and even risked their lives to save citizens in rescue works, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, it said a Sichuan television station had to suspend its live Internet broadcast of earthquake news, although the station had been offering much more direct reporting from the disaster zone than CCTV.

The British newspaper also reported that many Chinese netizens blamed the news coverage of the Chinese media, scornfully saying, “We are now tired of the tears of Wen Jiabao. Where on earth are the victims?”

– Original from donga.com: Internet Ushers in New Era for Chinese Censorship

Posted in censorship, China, disaster, earthquake, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Journalist, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on News Censorship of China Sichuan Earthquake

China Seismologist’s Prediction of Earthquake Ignored, Says Scientist

Posted by Author on May 15, 2008


By Xinfei, Epoch Times staff, May 14, 2008-Geng Qingguo, Wang Chengmin, and Li Shihui

The same night of Sichuan’s May 12 earthquake, Chinese scientist Li Shihui revealed on his blog that Chinese seismologist Geng Qingguo accurately predicted the quake and warned authorities about the disaster in late April. According to Li, Geng’s report was ignored by Chinese authorities.

Mr. Li, a visiting fellow scientist at the Key Laboratory of Geo-mechanical Engineering at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in the article that Geng first raised the issue as early as 2006, warning that a major quake will occur in Aba area of Sichuan Province where the 5.12 quake happened.

(Photo: [L-R] Geng Qingguo, Wang Chengmin, and Li Shihui. Picture taken at the “From Haicheng Earthquake to Qinglong Wonder Forum” , The 20th Academic Conference on Heaven, Earth and Man. Photo from Li Shihui’s blog)

According to Li, on April 26 and 27, the Committee of Natural Disaster Prediction, an organization under China Geophysical Institute, discussed Geng’s findings and further predicted that a quake measuring 6 to 7 will occur between May 2008 and April 2009 in the area south to Lanzhou City where Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces meet. The committee’s report was turned into China Seismology Bureau as a confidential document on April 30.

In addition, Geng Qingguo clearly pointed out that in Aba region a quake of 7 or higher magnitude is most likely to occur in 10 days before and after May 8, 2008. His prediction has been proved accurate in every aspect: magnitude, location, and time. But his report received no respond from the authorities.

“On hearing about Wenchuan’s 7.8-manitude earthquake, Chinese seismologist Geng Qingguo was struck with a tearless grief,” said Li in his blog. “His heart was bleeding.”

Geng Qingguo is a researcher for China Seismology Bureau and the Vice-Chair Examiner of The Committee for Natural Disaster Prediction at the China Geophysical Institute. According to Li Shihui, Geng developed the method of predicting major earthquakes with drought occurrence in 1972. With this method, Geng successfully predicted the 1975 earthquake in Haicheng City and the Tangshan quake in 1976 which killed at least 240,000 people. In the 1980s Geng published his theories in his book The Relationship Between Drought and Earthquake in China (published by Science Press).

“However,” Li said, “his scientific achievements offended authorities in the seismology field, and Geng was removed from the prediction team and transferred to a seismology newspaper.”

Li’s article has quickly drawn extensive attention. Many bloggers responded, condemning the Chinese authorities for ignoring the expert’s warning.

“I don’t understand why the authorities do not pay attention to the seismologists and let innocent people suffer!” said an angry blogger.

Another said, “If people were warned about it earlier, the quake would not have caused so many deaths.”

One blogger said, “I am one of the survivors of the Tangshan Quake. Tangshan people are extremely hostile toward the National Seismology Bureau. Because of their failure to predict such a devastating quake, over 240,000 people lost their lives. Now 32 years later, they again failed to predict the Sichuan quake. Why should we tax-payers spend money on you high officials in the National Seismology Bureau? The head of the National Seismology Bureau should resign from his position.”

– Original from the Epochtimes: Seismologist’s Prediction of Sichuan Quake Ignored, Says Scientist

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, Environment, Geology, News, People, Politics, Science, Sichuan, SW China, World | 3 Comments »

China earthquake toll could above 50,000, hundreds of reservoirs in danger

Posted by Author on May 15, 2008


AFP, May 15, 2008-

YINGXIU, China (AFP) — China said Thursday that over 50,000 people had likely died in the devastating earthquake that hit its southwest as time runs out to save survivors buried in the rubble of broken communities.

Experts said the search-and-rescue operation was entering its most crucial phase yet four days after the 7.9-magnitude quake struck, with the chances of finding survivors diminishing by the hour.

“The deaths are estimated to be over 50,000,” state television said, citing figures from the national quake relief headquarters.

The epic scale of Monday’s quake is becoming clearer as teams hike into the remote epicentre in Sichuan province, where whole towns were levelled.

“If there are some survivors under such conditions, it would be a matter of luck, or a miracle,” said Zhang Zhoushu, vice director of the state-run China Earthquake Disaster Prevention Centre.

Yet amidst the tragedy , miracles did occur.

In Yingxiu, a town at the epicentre, rescue workers pulled an 11-year-old girl out of the rubble 68 hours after the quake demolished her school, an AFP reporter who made it into the stricken community witnessed.

Rescuers were sifting through the debris when they heard a voice.

“It’s wonderful, she’s alive!” a delighted onlooker shouted as the girl was pulled out on a stretcher and given a small cup of water.

China has rebuffed most foreign offers to send rescuers, but said Thursday it would accept a Japanese team flying in with sniffer dogs.

“Most people are saved in the first three or four days,” Willie McMartin, director of the British-based charity International Rescue Corps, told AFP in Hong Kong where his team is trying to get permission to enter China.

“People can survive up to 15 days, but that is when you are talking about miracles, and miracles do not happen very often.”

Sichuan officials upped the confirmed death toll there to more than 19,500, but several tens of thousands more are missing or entombed in debris.

As the military ramped up its rescue efforts with more troops and aircraft, a new threat emerged from creaking dams and reservoirs shaken by the quake.

State-run television said authorities had found “dangerous situations” at more than 400 reservoirs — two of them major — across five provinces.

Underlining the desperate efforts, China launched a mass public appeal for thousands of shovels, hammers and cranes, saying some rescuers were having to shift huge concrete slabs by hand to get to survivors……. (more details from AFP: China says quake toll likely above 50,000)

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China earthquake: Horror of entire towns flattened

Posted by Author on May 15, 2008


John Garnaut and Francois Bougon in Dujiangyan, Sichuan, from Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, May. 14, 2008-

THE full horror of the devastating earthquake in China began to emerge yesterday as rescuers discovered whole towns all but wiped off the map, pushing the death toll beyond 20,000.

Military and police teams punched into the heart of the disaster zone, with 100 troops parachuting into a county that was previously cut off, while planes and helicopters dropped emergency supplies.

But the message from this mountainous corner of south-western Sichuan province was that town after town was flattened by Monday’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake.

“The losses have been severe,” said Wang Yi, who heads an armed police unit sent into the epicentre zone. “Some towns basically have no houses left. They have all been razed.”

At least 7700 people died in the small town of Yingxiu alone. Only 2300 survived there.

Across Sichuan, countless thousands more people are missing or buried under the rubble of homes, schools and factories.

The Premier, Wen Jiabao, said 100,000 military personnel and police had been mobilised. “Time is life,” he told rescuers.

Hundreds of survivors were pulled from rubble in Beichuan county yesterday, including five kindergarten children who were carried up the mountain road towards the city of Mianyang.

The road into Beichuan is blocked by boulders the size of houses and it takes would-be rescuers one hour to walk three kilometres.

Hardly a building remains untouched, and many have been buried beneath avalanches from the towering mountains on either side.

“Every hour we carry out between 10 and 20 people still alive,” said Luan Dongmo, a police officer from Chongqing. “Of course I have let some tears fall.”

Directly above the city an avalanche has sliced a third of the mountainside away……. (more details from Sydney Morning Herald)

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China Earthquake Predicted but Quashed as Rumour by Authorities (photo)

Posted by Author on May 14, 2008


By Sun Mingguo and Shar Adams, Epoch Times staff, May 13, 2008-

More than 10 days before the disastrous earthquake that hit China on May 12, residents in Abazhou of Sichuan had already been discussing that an earthquake might strike. Some called the local Earthquake Prevention and Disaster Relief Board to confirm the news, but the bureau claimed that it was merely a rumour.

A netizen who has an uncle working at the Sichuan Bureau of Seismology said the Bureau had detected signs of a quake coming, but they chose not to report it. He said his uncle called him and said there were signs of an earthquake, but for the sake of the Olympic Games, the Bureau would not let them make the news public on their official website in case people might panic.

Maerkang County Earthquake Disaster Prevention Bureau was told to take measures to find out where the rumour came from and refute it.

On May 9, the Sichuan provincial government even put a statement on its official website claiming that it had successfully quelled rumours of an earthquake.

(Photo below: Snap shot of the statement from Sichuan provincial government)

A translation of the statement reads:statement- earthquake- rumour

May 3, 8pm, The Abazhou Earthquake Prevention and Disaster Relief Board got calls from members of the public, asking whether news that an earthquake would strike Suomo Town of Maerkang County was true. The authorities quickly demanded Maerkang Earthquake Disaster Prevention Bureau to take measures to find out where the rumour came from and to refute it, so as to stop the rumours from spreading further.The Ma’erkang Bureau quickly contacted Suomo Town Authority, which looked into the matter and claimed that the rumour started because during a teleconferencing on measures against geological disaster, the town cadre misheard it and thought disaster (quake) was mentioned.

“The Abazhou Earthquake Prevention and Disaster Relief Board and the other cadres concerned managed to clear up the misunderstanding in time, and life of the locals is back to normal,” a spokesperson for the Suomo Town Authority said.

This statement was deleted right after the quake. According to many critics, the Chinese Communist Party’s CCP’s tends to hide the truth from the people, causing many lives to be lost.

And as early as May 7, there were people predicting a big quake in Wuhan and Sichuan on the Net. But as they had no proof, the news could not be put on an official website. One writer put this entry.

I’m a geologist. Based on the data I’ve collected, and the discussion I had with my counterparts overseas, I predict that there will be an earthquake on May 12 around Sichuan and Central Hubei. The entire China might feel the tremor. But I can’t announce my prediction on an official website because there’s no concrete proof. I’m from Wuhan. The epicentre should be quite near Wuhan. I hope Wuhan residents who see my blog notice will inform all your relatives and friends and take precautions.

A netizen from Linyi also put a notice on the net on May 9 that he noticed big patches of seismic clouds. He predicted that a quake measuring over 6 on the Richter scale would take place.

A few days before the quake, many strange phenomena happened too. On May 10, there was a report on West China City Paper that tens of thousands of toads were migrating in Mianzhu of Sichuan. The toads walked on the road and many were crushed to death by vehicles and pedestrians. Some villagers thought it was a bad omen. But the local authorities explained that it was a normal phenomenon. They said it was the peak breeding period for toads. Some experts even claimed that the migration of the toad was proof that the ecological system of Mianzhu was getting better.

In Taizhou of Jiangsu, tens of thousands of toads were also found crossing the roads.

In Enshi City of Hubei, 80,000 tons of water disappeared from a pond named Guanyin on April 26. Whirlpools began to develop at about 7am, and within 5 hours, the entire pond dried up. That was seen as a sign of a quake coming too.

– Original report from The Epochtimes: Earthquake Predicted but Quashed as Rumour

Posted in Beijing Olympics, censorship, China, corruption, disaster, earthquake, intellectual, Life, News, People, Politics, Social, Sports, SW China, World | Comments Off on China Earthquake Predicted but Quashed as Rumour by Authorities (photo)

China earthquake: more pupils buried by more collapsed shoddy school buildings

Posted by Author on May 14, 2008


Jane Macartney in Juyuan, (Sichuan province, southwest China), The Times Online, UK, May 14, 2008-

Gao Jianli lay under a quilt on the sports ground where she once played basketball, her mother and cousin at her side.

She looked as though she had simply fallen asleep, but her mother’s keening and the flickering candles by her white-stockinged feet told another story.

“She has no injuries, she wasn’t crushed,” her cousin said. “She must have been alive for a long time. In the end she suffocated.”

Gao Jiali was just 15. She died with hundreds of her schoolmates when the Juyuan Middle School crumbled under the force of the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck China on Monday. Only two children were brought out alive.

Now her weeping mother was gently slipping clean trousers over her limp legs to make sure that Gao Jiali would make her last journey in new clothes. Then there was a final farewell hug before the men came to carry the child away in a procession with her classmates to the bus that would take them to the mortuary.

Behind the row of bodies, troops circled the ruins. A crane lifted slabs of concrete from the flattened five-storey school. One man had watched the destruction in stunned disbelief. “It took just ten seconds. One moment the school was there and then it was gone,” he said.

Frightened residents of Juyuan were sheltering from the driving rain under plastic sheeting. One family huddled together for warmth beside the ruins of their home. Chunks of concrete lay scattered around the metal chairs where they sat wrapped in quilts against the chill rain.

Without power, survivors were living on bread and packets of biscuits, unable to light a fire to boil water or cook because of the rain.

Their patience was beginning to snap. “This is the fault of the Government,” a bystander said angrily as he watched rescuers sift through the rubble of the school. “They were too slow. Look, it’s already 30 hours or more since the earthquake and our children are still lying in there.”

Another man, who had come to search for his nephew, was outraged by the shoddy building work that helped to topple the school. “Look at all the buildings around. They were the same height but why did the school fall down? It’s because the contractors want to make a profit from our children. They cut corners. They use poor-quality cement. And the Government turns a blind eye.

“These buildings just weren’t made for that powerful a quake. Some don’t even meet the basic specifications,” said Dai Jun, a structural engineer surveying the damage.

Lining the side of the road, several families had stretched sheets of white, red and blue plastic over wooden poles. “I hope the Government can give us a tent soon,” said one middle-aged man. “How can I keep my family warm and dry like this?”

The main highway from the provincial capital, Chengdu, to the devastated town of Dujiangyan and into the mountains beyond was open only to ambulances and to troops and relief workers heading to the disaster area.

One man from Chengdu had piled his car high with bottled water, instant noodles and biscuits and was planning to drive as far as he could. “I am taking this up to the people in the disaster area. The television is saying they are short of water and tents. The army will bring tents but I want to help a little with food for the victims.”

A primary school in the nearby town of Dujiangyan also collapsed. There were reports of 1,000 students and teachers killed or missing after a six-storey high school in Beichuan county crumbled into a pile of rubble. Those able to make contact with relatives in the county said the old town on a steep hillside had been buried in a landslide. The new town on the bank of a river had slid into the water.

One man with relatives in the town said: “I can only imagine how many people could have survived such a disaster.” State media said that up to 5,000 people were killed……. (more details from The Times Online: China quake: ‘One moment the school was there, then it was gone’)

Related:
China earthquake: 400 pupils buried by collapsed shoddy school building in Dujiangyan

Posted in China, City resident, corruption, disaster, earthquake, Life, News, People, Sichuan, Social, Student, SW China, World | Comments Off on China earthquake: more pupils buried by more collapsed shoddy school buildings

China earthquake: 400 pupils buried by collapsed shoddy school building in Dujiangyan

Posted by Author on May 14, 2008


Tania Branigan in Dujiangyan, (Southwest China), The Guardian, Wednesday May 14 2008-

Tenderly, she eased the clean fleece over her little boy’s hand and up around his plump shoulder. The steady rain washing the town’s streets had chilled the usually warm Sichuan weather.

He didn’t look alarmed or frightened but dirt and blood were caked on his forehead. She touched his hair and then they pulled up the zipper on the bodybag and carried him away. Only her husband marked her howls. The whole street was seething with misery and anger. She had seen her son, at least; most of the children still lay in the rubble of Xinjian elementary school.

Four hundred and fifty pupils, aged between six and 12, were there when the quake hit yesterday at 2.28pm. A fortunate few were pulled out within hours by anxious parents scrabbling at the wreckage with bare hands. A handful more were saved overnight, after troops arrived to take over the rescue effort. Doctors were unsure how many had been taken to hospital – perhaps 15, perhaps 50.

What was certain was that hundreds more remained trapped and that hope was ebbing by the moment.

“There’s a slight chance they could save a few more now; probably not very many,” said a white-coated doctor.

Even the medics were raw-eyed and anxious. The sobs, wails and shouting mixed with sirens and the steady patter of rain. Under bright umbrellas, parents and relatives stood in whatever they grabbed when the quake hit: dressing gowns, slippers, straw hats. Some bore the bruises and scars of the previous day. Scores of doctors and nurses were waiting to help survivors from the school. But the scale of the challenge – and the collapse of the nearby hospital – meant that resources appeared to be limited. One child was carried to an ambulance by the arms and legs, apparently because there were not enough stretchers.

One man showed his raw, filthy hands. He didn’t want to give his name but said his 12-year-old son, Futian, was still in the wreckage.

“Before the troops came we found more than 10 people. I saved two students and one teacher but I didn’t get my own child out,” he said.

“I’m already 39 and he’s 44,” said his wife. “We had only one child. Why should I live on now?”

Like many parents here, their mood was turning from raw grief to fury as they waited for news. Twenty four hours after the quake they were losing hope, and only rage was left. They blamed everyone: soldiers for coming too late, the builders for cutting corners, officials for – they claimed – siphoning off cash. “The contractors can’t have been qualified. It’s a ‘tofu’ [soft and shoddy] building. Please, help us release this news,” her husband said. “About 450 were inside, in nine classes, and it collapsed completely from the top to the ground. It didn’t fall over; it was almost like an explosion.”

His neighbour, still half hoping for a sight of her daughter, burst out angrily: “Why isn’t there money to build a good school for our kids? Chinese officials are too corrupt and bad.

“These buildings outside have been here for 20 years and didn’t collapse – the school was only 10 years old. They took the money from investment, so they took the lives of hundreds of kids. They have money for prostitutes and second wives but they don’t have money for our children.

“This is not a natural disaster – this is done by humans.”

Intravenous drips, cigarette butts and scraps of children’s clothes were trodden under foot as families surged forward, trying to force their way through the lines of paramilitary police and troops guarding the site. “They haven’t told us anything. They won’t even let us see the place now,” shouted one mother, trying not to cry.

A man with a red umbrella paused to watch the scene. “My neighbours had two kids here,” he said quietly. “One was on the first floor and ran out but was hit by a falling brick and died. The other one is still in there.” Residents of Dujiangyan know other places were worse hit. Most of the buildings in the town are still standing, but no one dared enter them and many bore long cracks down their sides. The squares and roadsides were packed with residents huddling under tarpaulins, carpets and anything they could find. Too scared to go inside, they stayed out all night.

As the day wore on, an exodus began. People clustered by the roadside to hitch lifts, wait hopefully for buses or simply tramp along the long road to Chengdu to find shelter. Those without umbrellas covered their heads with plastic bags, towels and books in a vain attempt to stay dry. Some held bulging cloth bundles or backpacks; others fled without anything.

Dujianyang was a thriving town until yesterday, and the debris hinted at its previously prospering life. Now, all anyone wanted was to find safety and those they loved.

Not far from Xinjian school, at the Long Tan Wan housing compound, a young couple stared, dazed, at the remains of their apartment block: a pitiless jumble of tin basins, curtains, books, chairs, slabs of concrete and the twisted metal that used to be window frames. Their one-and-a-half year old daughter, Xixi, was somewhere inside. Her father drew the back of his hand across his eyes.

“I tried to get to her myself, but it all started falling down and I couldn’t carry on,” he said. “I called the police, but they wouldn’t come. They said they had bigger disasters.”

– Original from The Guardian: Searching the rubble of a Chinese school, parents’ grief turns to fury

Posted in China, City resident, disaster, earthquake, Life, News, People, Sichuan, Social, Student, SW China, World | 1 Comment »

China bloggers discussing earthquake omens ignored by the authorities

Posted by Author on May 13, 2008


Hannah Fletcher, From Times Online, May 13, 2008-

As the death toll in China’s Sichuan province climbs, the nation’s bloggers have joined together in the search for a scapegoat.

Broadband connections across the country are pulsing with rumours of “earthquake omens” involving toads or butterflies – all allegedly ignored by the authorities. Some even talk of a vast pre-Olympic conspiracy.

One blogger from Shandong province, in eastern China, wrote that more than a month ago, he went to his local earthquake resesarch centre several times to report that his animals had been disturbed and restless.

But, he wrote: “They not only ridiculed me, they accused me of making up stories.”

Other blogs link to Chinese newspaper reports of bizarre natural occurrences in the past few weeks.

The Chutian Metropolis Daily reported that on April 26, 80,000 tonnes of water suddenly drained from a large pond in Enshi, Hubei province. The province shares a border with Chongqing Municipality, which was devastated by the earthquake on Monday.

On May 10, a Sichuan-based newspaper, the West China Metropolis Daily, reported that hundreds of migrating toads descended upon the streets of Mianyang, the second largest city in the province which neighbours Wenchuan County, the epicentre of the earthquake.

The Chinese state news agency reported today that 18,645 people were buried under the city’s collapsed buildings and 3,629 people confirmed dead.

In the city of Mianzhu, 60 miles from the epicentre, bloggers pointed to reports just weeks before the earthquake of a mass migration of more than one million butterflies.

Other bloggers seized upon an as yet unsubstantiated rumour that a Chinese geologist had predicted the earthquake in advance but had been stifled by the authorities, and by fear.

“On the seventh of May, a geologist predicted this [earthquake],” wrote one blogger. “But he didn’t dare make it public.”

Another blogger from Beijing wrote: “Everyone is talking about the rescue effort but they are not actually joining it.

“So, instead we should turn our thoughts to why [the authorities] didn’t forecast the earthquake and evacuate the people…

“Could it be that it was out of a desire for a peaceful Olympics?”

In an editorial in the Southern Metropolis Daily, the established journalist and commentator, Chang Ping, cited the growing tide of rumours and speculation surrounding the earthquake as evidence of the need for greater freedom of information in China.

He wrote: “As the phone lines went down, rumours multiplied…I understood that the vast majority of this information could not be verified and that the police regarded it as the transmission of rumours punishable by criminal detention.

“But as someone with relatives in the affected area, I could not stop myself from seeking whatever information I could …”

He added: ”The information was clearly unreliable, and it was difficult to tell what was true or false.

“Together it all spoke of a single problem, and that is the people’s fierce appetite for information when faced with a public incident.”

– Original report from The Times Online: China bloggers cook up quake conspiracies

Posted in Blogger, China, corruption, disaster, earthquake, News, People, Politics, Social, World | Comments Off on China bloggers discussing earthquake omens ignored by the authorities

(photos) Special color cloud on sky in west China before earthquake

Posted by Author on May 13, 2008


Photos from Internet-

color cloud in Baoji City, may 12, 2008

Above: photo shot at 13:34 on May 12, 2008, just one hour before the earthquake, in Baoji City, Shaanxi province, west China, close to Xichuan province. (Posted on Netease website.)

Above: Shot at 13:11 on May. 12, 2008 in Mei Xian County, Shaanxi province, west China, close to Xichuan province. (Posted on Netease website)

cloud in Tianshui, Gansu province

Above: Shot in Tianshui City, Gansu province, Northwest China. (posted on Tianshui Online website)

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, Gansu, News, NW China, Photo, Shaanxi | 2 Comments »

(photo) China earthquake: fissure on the road from Wenchuan to Chengdu city

Posted by Author on May 13, 2008


Photo from Internet, Via The Epochtimes, May. 13, 2008-

fissure on the road-1

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More photos

Posted in Chengdu, China, disaster, earthquake, Environment, Life, News, Photo, Sichuan, SW China, transport, World | Comments Off on (photo) China earthquake: fissure on the road from Wenchuan to Chengdu city