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Earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, 12 May 2008


"Towns have been cut off by smashed roads and landslides in the mountainous earthquake zone. Thousands may lie buried by debris in Wenchuan County, where 110 000 residents have failed to make contact with the outside world. Few buildings in this remote region have been built to withstand earthquakes. One in ten in Beichuan County, with a population of 161 000, may have been killed or injured.

The magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck at 2.28 pm. Tremors rocked buildings in Beijing, sent ripples of fear through Bangkok, Thailand, and caused near panic in Hanoi, Vietnam. Some skyscrapers in China’s financial hub, Shanghai, swayed violently and had to be evacuated.

In Juyuan, just south of the epicentre near Dujiangyan, a school has collapsed and buried up to
1 000 staff and students. Houses and other buildings, including schools, hospitals, power stations and chemical plants, have collapsed across the region. Many dams have been weakened and are threatening to burst, adding flooding to the existing problems faced by rescuers. Deaths have also been reported in three neighbouring provinces and in the mega-city of Chongqing."

Adapted from reports in The Times and The Independent on 13 May 2008. The final death toll from the Sichuan earthquake is uncertain but is thought to be around 70 000. 


What is 'debris'?
It is all the damaged items, including houses, roads, trees, plants, buses and everything that is badly damaged after a disaster.

What is a 'remote region' - in this context?
A region which is far from the centre of the country's administration, and often has poor communications (such as roads, telephony - and these days, poor mobile signals and slower internet speeds).

What is 'to withstand'?
To withstand is to be able to keep the correct form against forces acting on something - for example, an aircraft can withstand a very heavy landing easily.

What's a 'mega-city'?
A mega city is a city comprised (made up of) many smaller cities, which in turn became cities by joining together smaller towns. Those smaller towns became towns from the joining or growing of villages.

What is the name when two cities which are close join and become one?
A conurbation is when cities grow into each other.

The following video is about the earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, 12 May 2008


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