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Massive Earthquake Rocks China

updated: 2008-06-20

On Monday May 12, 2008 at 2:28 p.m. local time, China had its worst natural disaster since an earthquake rocked in the country in 1976. Western China had a massive earthquake which was estimated to have had a magnitude of 7.9 on the Richter Scale, and lasted for 3 minutes. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, 10,000 people have been killed, and untold numbers have been trapped in piles of concrete and steel. The quake,s epicenter was located just outside Chengdu City in Sichuan Province. Over 80% of structures near the epicenter were destroyed according to Chinese officials. The quakes tremors could be felt as far away as Vietnam, and another smaller quake was set off in Tongzhou district, on the outskirts of Beijing over 900 miles away, although no damage was reported. Much of the affected area has been cut off from the outside world making accurate figures difficult. The earthquake had disrupted air traffic control in western China, but flight services were restored by Monday evening.

China’s Tourism Administration announced that all travel services must stop organizing any tours to Sichuan Province for safety,s sake, while those visitors already in Sichuan Province should be helped out of the area as early as possible.

Premiere Wen Jiabao flew to the region to offer support. He visited one of the local hospitals where patients were trapped inside the building and was seen shouting encouragement to them. American President George Bush said in a statement “I am particularly saddened by the number of students and children affected by this tragedy” and International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge sent his condolences to Chinese President Hu Jintao saying, “The Olympic movement is at your side, especially during these difficult moments.”