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Earthquake Strikes Again


Text by Zi Mo

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Lushan County, Ya’an City, in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province at 8:02 a.m. on April 20, 2013. By April 23, 193 had died, 12,211 were injured, and nearly 2 million people in the area were affected.

Five years ago, the county was among those devastated in the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, which resulted in nearly 70,000 dead and nearly 180,000 missing. Before the scars from Wenchuan had even healed, another disaster struck nearby.

Located at the junction of the Sichuan-Tibet and Sichuan-Yunnan highways, 120 kilometers from Chengdu, Ya’an is known as an increasingly popular tourist city of historic and cultural significance, as well as one of China’s major bases for giant panda protection and research. Sichuan Bifeng Valley Giant Panda Research Base is located only 30 kilometers from the epicenter. Fortunately, none of the giant pandas there were injured.

Both Lushan and Wenchuan rest along the Longmen Mountain Thrust Belt, an area particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. A hundred kilometers separate the counties, with Wenchuan at the center of the thrust belt and Lushan to its south. Debate remains about the relationship between the two earthquakes. Preliminary data from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research and the Institute of Geology and Geophysics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences ties the two disasters together, and some experts have hypothesized that the Lushan disaster was actually a severe aftershock of the Wenchuan quake.

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