2008 Sichuan Earthquake
On May 12, 2008 at 2:28pm, a 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck in Sichuan province, China. It killed over 70,000, injured over 375,000 and left almost 5 million people without shelter.
The quake was strong enough to be felt in many neighboring countries. Over 100 serious aftershocks occurred in the days and weeks after the initial disaster, collapsing damaged buildings and other infrastructure.
The earthquake occurred in a part of China that includes significant rivers and mountainous areas. Much of the worst damage occurred in mountain towns that were subsequently cut off from the rest of the country when roads were destroyed in landslides. This made it extremely difficult to locate people in need and deliver food and medical assistance.
Putting Yourself There
If you wish, you can listen to what the earthquake sounded like from this piece by NPR reporter Melissa Block, who was in Sichuan province along with other NPR reporters working on a story when the earthquake occurred. Block was interviewing someone for a story when the earthquake struck. Here is the audio from that moment (click the first link on the left side under the heading "A Quake's Arrival"):
- Click here for a video report by the New York Times created on May 14, 2008.
- Read this excellent liveblog to get a sense of what outsiders knew from minute to minute as people tried to understand what had happened.