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Subject: China quake: ‘One moment the school was there, then it was gone’
Zhang Fei    5/13/2008 9:02:00 PM
Very, very sad. A small-scale version of the disaster in Burma that isn't being covered by the media because of access problems. (Quote) 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?” (Unquote)
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xylene       5/13/2008 9:16:34 PM
This is really sad. Especially given fact of one -child policy, a single school could represent almost a whole generation lost.
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SGTObvious       5/14/2008 11:18:40 AM
That line about the buildings not being made for a powerful quake is important.
This is a problem in much of the world, especially in non-democratic nations.
We may complain about our politicians and lawyers, but there is also the bright side:  because of litigation and insurance claims and political activism, we have building codes, and they are enforced.  Sometimes to a ridiculous degree.  If you are in a new residential building in Florida in a hurricane, the safest place to stand is right in front of a Lexan window, because they are held to a higher code standard than the walls!  (regarding impacts by windblown debris).
We saw a similar event in Turkey:  the earthquake revealed that building codes were not being followed. 

The fact is, in nations like this, it is too easy to produce show (new buildings) over substance (new buildings, properly designed, and inspected.)
I expect the Chinese will do the usual thing:  identify some builders who cheated on the building code requirements, identify some officials who allowed them to do it, quietly ignore any guilty ones who have good party connections, and execute the unfortunate ones.
What they need, really, is some good old fashioned American style lawsuits.
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xylene       5/14/2008 12:26:46 PM
Shabby building is no doubt a major concern, but this was a 7.8 - 7.9 earthquake. Even in America where we have tight building codes, hordes of inspectors, armies of lawyers, I doubt most US cities would be unscathed if recieving full brunt of an 8.0 earthquake.  
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Zhang Fei       5/14/2008 11:08:22 PM
San Francisco was hit by an 8.0 in 1906. 700 people died out of a population of 400,000.
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timon_phocas    1906 San Francisco Deaths   5/16/2008 9:53:30 AM
The death toll in the 1906 San Francisco was far higher than the city boosters wanted to admit. They wanted the rest of the country to think of San Francisco to think as a plucky city that was rebuilding itself, not a charnel house. So they limited their death totals to those they could direct attribute solely to the earthquake itself. Every other death was attributed to the accompanying fire, exposure, disease, etc.

 Army reports estimated the deaths as greater than 3,000. Researchers going through obituary notices and public health records say the death toll was greater than 3,000.


This is less than the death toll in Chinese cities, but San Francisco was mostly detached, single family dwellings, with a far lower population density than Chinese cities.

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Zhang Fei       5/16/2008 10:42:06 PM
This is less than the death toll in Chinese cities, but San Francisco was mostly detached, single family dwellings, with a far lower population density than Chinese cities.

I'm afraid this is untrue. Most Chinese cities are conurbations rather than cities in the American sense. Dujiangyan covers 1,200 sq km and has a population of 500,000 (416/sq km). 1906 San Francisco had a land area of 121 sq km and a population of 400,000 (3,305/sq km)*. In other words, almost nine times the population density of Dujiangyan.

These numbers are representative of the major cities in the region. The city of Chengdu has a population of 11m. The land area is over 12,000 sq km (916/sq km). The city of Chongqing has a land area of over 82,000 sq km. The population is just over 31m people (378/sq km). One is more densely populated than New Jersey and one is less so. But I wouldn't call a "city" slightly smaller than New Jersey an American-style city, let alone something that spans 82,000 sq km.

* BTW, present day San Francisco has a population of 776,000 people (6,400/sq km).
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Zhang Fei       5/16/2008 10:57:05 PM
By the way, the dispersion of China's population is also why Chinese cities are much less vulnerable to bombing attacks than American ones. For the most part, they have hundreds of people per sq km, whereas we have thousands. Hong Kong and Macau are the only Chinese cities with the kind of massively concentrated populations we have stateside.

People have weird misconceptions about how crowded China is because it's got a pretty large population. What they forget is that China is also the third largest country in the world. It is much less densely populated than most of its East Asian and South Asian neighbors. It is also less densely populated than most of Western Europe.
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PlatypusMaximus       5/17/2008 10:33:09 AM
Lining the side of the road, several families had stretched sheets of white, red and blue plastic over wooden poles.

Hey!...We're not so different after all!

Thoughts & prayers for the human family.
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YelliChink       5/17/2008 5:31:03 PM
An article from Epochtimes says that a major nuclear research facility and an aviation research facility in City of Mianyang very near to earthquake center.
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Nanheyangrouchuan       5/20/2008 5:30:08 PM
We aren't hearing anything about potential damage to PLAAF or space facilities in rural Sichuan.  There is a huge concrete tower that assembles the orbital rockets.

Also, I've seen these buildings being built now even in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou.  No rebar, just put up the frame, pour and take the frame off after a few days.  There are still wet spots on the concrete where it hasn't completely dried.  I don't think there is alot of aggregate in those mixes, mostly sand and maybe dried and pulverized clay.

The Chinese internet was wide open for a few days but now is being pruned because so many are asking about the quality of the older apartments and schools.
Out of 40,000 counted dead and 50,000 estimated, almost 10,000 were school children and people are upset.

And then there is the cover up of Chinese geologists and geophysicists predicting these quakes in the 90s:

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