Earthquake in Qinghai

Many people have checked in to see if I’m okay after seeing China’s latest earthquake in the news.  Thanks for your thoughts and messages – all of us far away in Beijing are safe and didn’t feel a thing (we’re 1190 miles away).

Qinghai (pronounced ching-hi) is a remote area in China’s Tibetan region and the earthquake occurred along one of eastern Tibet’s most active fault lines.  Unfortunately rescue efforts are slow because Qinghai Province is so isolated and there isn’t very much excavation machinery.  From what I’ve read, people have been pulling the rubble apart with their bare hands to look for survivors.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out that many of the deaths are school children who were attending class in buildings full of illegal construction short-cuts, like what happened in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.  So far we know that 11 schools were destroyed.  Most of the buildings in this area are of wood-earth construction, and 85% of these collapsed.  Thousands of people are homeless during a time of year where the weather is in the low 40’s.  The Changdu Dam was also heavily damaged and Chinese media has reported that it is in danger of collapsing at any time.

The government is sending aid to displaced people.

  • 10 yuan/day subsidy ($1.46)
  • Families of victims will receive a bereavement payment of 5000 yuan ($732)
  • 4150 rescue soldiers have been sent
  • 1170 people have been saved
  • 1 million yuan of supplies ($147,000) have been airlifted to the region
  • President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have postponed planned trips overseas
  • Deaths: 760
  • Injured: 10,000

Here are some quick facts about Qinghai as you think of this disaster:

  • Population: 5.2 million
  • Per capita GDP: $2500
  • Telephone accesss: 93.4%
  • Qinghai Lake is the largest saltwater lake in China
  • About half the population is Han Chinese, the rest are made up of ethnic minorities

To contrast this earthquake with the 7.9 Wenchuan, Sichuan earthquake on May 12, 2008, that quake killed over 70,000 people and displaced over 15 million people.  Even though the devastation of this earthquake doesn’t reach as far as some other recent disasters, this earthquake has left many families without family members or shelter in an area that already had very little to begin with.

5 Responses

  1. I’m relieved to know all is well for you and for those you know around you.

    what does it cost to go to the theatre over there in US currency? I go to the Saturday showings in the afternnong so we don’t have to pay nearly $10 per person. We spent $6 per person. So much nicer. I can’t believe it costs so much to see movies here now too though. When i went to see Sherlock Holmes it was $9.75 per person, so it is so nice to go when no one else is at the theatre on Saturday mornings and pay less!

    • Tuesday nights are 30 yuan ($4.50), but all other times start at 60 ($9) for older movies and 80-100 for newer ones ($10-15).

  2. Are very many of your student’s families effected? I’m thinking about you guys!

    This was a very well written blog Julie. I’m impressed. The maps, random information, comparison with the Sichuan earthquake, very well done. Very informative.

    • Thank you, Colleen. 🙂 I don’t think many students’ families are affected by this. This province is by and large a poor, rural area, and I doubt that many in Beijing have family connections there.

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