World earthquakes

RMW Musson (UK) For millions of people in the western part of Sichuan province in China, the morning of 12 May 2008 started out as a day like any other. People left their homes for work as usual, saying goodbye to family members without any thought that they would never see them again. Children packed into their school classrooms, their minds on lessons and games. It seemed like just another busy day. Fig. 1. Damage from the 2008 Wenchuan, China, earthquake. Photo by Raymond Koo, courtesy of EEFIT, UK. At 28 minutes past two in the afternoon, catastrophe struck. There was no warning – just a sudden terrific roaring sound, as buildings bucked violently, sending down clouds of plaster dust, and then giving way completely, as the heavy ceilings came crashing down. People outside were the lucky ones. For them, the ground itself rocked violently like the deck of a boat in a storm. All around, clouds of dust arose from collapsing buildings, amid the sounds of roaring, of crashing masonry and of screaming people fleeing into the streets. These scenes were repeated in the same instant across a huge area, nearly 300km long, at the edge of the Sichuan plain where the mountains of Longmen Shan rise up abruptly from the flat farmland. In the narrow mountain valleys, steep, rocky slopes came tumbling down, as massive rockslides added to the devastation and blocked the roads. In a matter of a couple of minutes, over 70,000 people were killed and … Read More

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