Yaan earthquake

Officials say schools and hospitals rebuilt after 2008 saved lives

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 5:05am

Despite the damage wrought by Saturday's magnitude-7 earthquake in Sichuan, no buildings that were rebuilt after the magnitude-8 quake of 2008 had collapsed, senior provincial officials said in Beijing yesterday.

Qiu Jian, chief housing planner with the Sichuan government, said a preliminary survey by more than 400 inspectors had found that that no buildings rebuilt after the 2008 earthquake had "completely collapsed".

"Given the strength of Saturday's quake, the reconstruction projects have passed their test.

"These reconstructed buildings, especially schools and hospitals, saved lives."

Deputy Sichuan governor Zhong Mian said more than 6,700 buildings had collapsed in urban areas while 80,000 were damaged beyond repair. The situation was far worse in rural areas, where more than 180,000 buildings collapsed and 430,000 were severely damaged.

The earthquake had been followed by more than 4,200 aftershocks, he said. The death toll stood at 196, more than 13,000 were injured and nearly two million people had lost their homes,

Meanwhile, a 4.8-magnitude quake jolted Yibin yesterday in the southeast of the province, near the border with an earthquake-prone region of Yunnan province. Forty people were injured and more than 4,000 houses were damaged, Xinhua reported.

Qiu said the projects had been criticised by internet users because of damage such as cracks in walls, but these were "normal" in a strong quake.

The rebuilt buildings were designed to withstand quakes up to an intensity of 8 on the 12-point Chinese Seismic Intensity Scale, while Saturday's quake exceeded 9 in some areas, he said.

Zhao Ming, director of emergency response at the China Earthquake Administration, said scientists were still debating whether Saturday's earthquake was an independent event or related to the 2008 quake. Both quakes occurred on the Longmenshan fault, he said.