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Current China Travel Situation - Serious Affected Areas

updated: 2008-06-20

The giant earthquake that hit China's Sichuan Province at 2:38pm on May 12th was China's largest natural disaster in over three decades. Although the 8.0-magnitude quake could be felt in most provinces and regions of China, almost all of China's tourist destinations were unharmed and tours throughout China have continued uninterrupted. China is still a safe place to visit.

Aftershocks: As of May 21th, 162 aftershocks had been monitored in Sichuan Province, according to the China Seismological Bureau. Among them, 26 aftershocks measured higher than 5.0 on the Richter scale, and 4 measured above 6.0 according to the bureau. Experts have been reported saying they believe a strong aftershock rating higher than 6 on the Richter scale is likely to occur at the original quake's epicenter.

Epicenter

The epicenter of the quake was located at the town of Wenchuan in southwestern China's Sichuan Province. Over 80 percent of buildings near the epicenter were flattened, and almost all bridges and tunnels had collapsed. Landslides following the earthquake and aftershocks pose threats to these quake-hit areas.

Serious affected areas

Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Center: Located only about 30 kilometers from the epicenter, the Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center was affected and most of the center's panda houses were severely damaged allowing six of the giant pandas to escape. As of May 21th, four of the missing giant pandas returned, on their own, and the remaining two are still reported missing. The Wolong center is located deep in the hills north of Chengdu along a winding two-lane road that has been partially blocked by landslides. On May 15th, 33 stranded tourists from England, the United States, and France arrived in Chengdu, from Wolong via military helicopter. They are all in good health.

The local government has sent bamboo, apples, and veterinary medicine for the pandas, as well as food and the tents urgently needed by the staff of the center.

Dujiangyan Irrigation Project: Dujiangyan Project, the world's oldest operating irrigation system, was near the quake's epicenter (90km). The project was not compromised by the giant quake and sustained minor damage. The surrounding buildings partly collapsed. The Ministry of Water Resources set up a command center to safely discharge the reservoir's rising waters and guarantee that there was no threat to Dujiangyan and the Chengdu Plane.

Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area: Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area is located about 300km away from the epicenter. The two roads leading to the area were cut off, but the sightseeing areas were safe. More than 5,000 people had been evacuated by May 15th. Most of the hotels there are closed.