12 Mei 2008 sekitar jam 13.47 WIB
China was hit by a magnitude-7.8 earthquake, the nation’s strongest in 58 years causing buildings to shake in Beijing, more than 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away. Between 3,000 and 5,000 were killed in one county alone, China state media said.
The quake struck 90 kilometers west-northwest of the central city of Chengdu at 2:28 p.m. local time, at a depth of 10 kilometers, the U.S. Geological Survey said. A magnitude-6 quake struck the area about 15 minutes later. Chengdu, with 11 million people, is Sichuan’s provincial capital, site of China’s largest panda reserve and where 40 percent of gas deposits are found.
A Sichuan high school building collapsed and may have buried as many as 900 students in a mudslide, Xinhua News Agency said earlier. The agency cited China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs as saying at least 107 were confirmed dead. In a separate incident, four students were killed and at least 100 were injured when two schools collapsed in Liangping county of Chongqing municipality, adjacent to Sichuan, state-run Xinhua said. Chongqing is about 350 kilometers from the epicenter and has a population of about 30 million. One person died in Sichuan province.
It's a big one,'' said Dimtry Storchak, director of the Berkshire, U.K.-based International Seismological Centre. It could be a very disastrous earthquake. It depends on how deep, or how shallow it struck, and what the local structures are like,’’ Storchak said today in a telephone interview.
The death toll may rise, Deng Changwen, a spokesman for the Sichuan provincial seismological bureau, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. Troops and a 180-men rescue team have been sent to Wenchuan, a city of 111,800 people and one of the closest population centers to the quake, Xinhua said.
``The rescue efforts will be focused on the older parts of the city, where there are older buildings that aren’t well reinforced,’’ Deng said.
The quake damaged more than 2,000 China Mobile Ltd. base stations, Vice President Sha Yuejia said in an interview broadcast on state-run China Central Television.
The quake shook buildings in Beijing for more than three minutes and traffic stopped. Construction cranes stopped work, while hundreds of workers were seen scrambling to get out of buildings including the China World Tower, one of the tallest structures in the Chinese capital.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in the capital. Shaking was felt as far as Hong Kong and Bangkok in Thailand, 1,950 kilometers away.
Quake Sparks Panic
The quake sparked panic in cities and towns across Sichuan and other central provinces, Xinhua said. No damage was reported at the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, Xinhua said.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Chengdu about five hours after the earthquake struck, while President Hu Jintao issued an order for an immediate response from government agencies, according to Xinhua.
Wen called the earthquake a ``disaster’’ and called for calm and ordered immediate relief work, according to state media.
Today’s earthquake was the world’s strongest tremor since a 7.9-magnitude temblor struck Indonesia in September, according to the USGS. Today’s temblor was the biggest to hit China since a magnitude-8.6 quake struck Tibet in 1950, killing 1,526 people. China’s deadliest disaster was a 7.5-magnitude quake that killed 250,000 people in northeastern China’s Tangshan in 1976.
The U.S. Geological Survey defines an earthquake of magnitude 7 or more as
major,'' and one above 8 as great.’’
``Let me take the opportunity to express regret at the news of the very serious earthquake that I understand occurred only a few hours ago in Sichuan province, and I wanted to convey our concern over that situation,’’ U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said in a meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Hundreds of employees were evacuated from skyscrapers in the Lujiazui district of Shanghai, the city’s financial center, where the stock exchange and banks including Citigroup Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc have offices. No damage was reported.
Sichuan has about 40 percent of China’s natural gas reserves and produced about 22 percent of the nation’s output in 2006, according to China National Petroleum Corp. and BP Plc’s annual energy report. The province is also home to China’s largest reserve for the endangered giant panda.
PetroChina Co., a unit of China National Petroleum, hasn’t yet received any reports of damage at its fields in the earthquake zone, spokesman Mao Zefeng said.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. closed outlets in Chengdu after the shaking knocked goods off shelves, Dong Yuguo, a spokesman, said by telephone. Power and water supplies inside the stores were also down, he said.
Ford Motor Co. Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. said there was no immediate damage to their factories in Sichuan, Chongqing and other areas.
The Ministry of Railways said it hadn’t received any reports of interruptions to services, Yang Xue, an official, said.