Adam Boulton
When Are Aftershocks Quakes?

Chinaquake_2By Jon Bugge
Save the Children

25th May 2008

I was walking along the street in Chengdu and felt a slight tremor but though nothing more. It was only when we saw people running out of buildings I realised the aftershock had been so strong. It had registered as 6.4 on the Richter scale. A powerful earthquake by any standards - when do they stop being aftershocks and are registered as another quake it's own right?

I thought of the fear this tremor would have caused to the people already displaced by the May 12 quake. This aftershock had been the strongest since then and had rattled the population of Chengdu - it must have bought fear to those people still living in tents and makeshift camps.

The children in the Mianzhu stadium camp said the aftershocks kept them awake at night. They were happy to be at the child friendly space Save the Children had set up - a chance to forget about the difficult circumstances and to meet with other children. Many of them are only children - without siblings their only interaction with other children is through schools and spaces like this. Save the Children will start establishing temporary schools for children so they can carry on their studies and have a semblance of normality in very abnormal times.

We visited a nearby town of Han Wang. It is only thirty minutes away from the stadium camp - the town has been almost totally destroyed. Huge piles of rubble litter the streets where buildings collapsed. The structures that still stood teetered at precarious angles with gaping cracks and holes visible.

Many thousands had died in this town and still remained entombed in the buildings they once called home. Survivors collected what they could from the rubble. We saw one family whose shop had been destroyed collecting what stock they could from the ruins. Other survivors wandered round still seemingly in shock at the scale of the devastation. Everyone wore masks to protect from disease but also to try to keep out the smell.

The entire town seemed likely to be condemned. The plans for the buildings that remained are undecided. Perhaps it is better to knock everything down and start again in a new location. Rebuilding cities seems an enormous task, the rebuilding of lives an even larger one.

Written by Sky News, 28/05/2008


What I have always wondered is how do you know that a medium sized earthquake is actually not just a foreshock for a huge one? THAT would be what would worry me...

Whilst the destruction and [Sadness] caused by the numerous shocks has left very little to the imagination, it is rather pleasing to note that the temporary homes have sustained the impact, thereby not adding to the misery currently being suffered.
For all intents and purposes, out of every bad comes good, and by heck who would argue that China has not acted in a manner professional thus far as to eradicate famine, disease and other such [Enigma]? a lesson we all hope those with Burmah/Myanmar will take to heart, no matter what the politics.
Whatever you do, dont give up hope as the whole world is with you on this one.

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