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May 11 / Dave Schumaker

M7.8 Earthquake in Central China

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck central China earlier today. It was centered in the Sichuan province, about 1500 kilometers from Beijing. Shaking was felt as far away as Beijing. CNN reports that at least 10,000 people are feared dead. The earthquake was rather shallow (the focus being located only 10km beneath the surface).

Source: USGS

The following is a release by the United States Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center: An earthquake occurred 90 km (55 miles) WNW of Chengdu, Sichuan, China and 1545 km (960 miles) SW of BEIJING, Beijing, China at 12:28 AM MDT, May 12, 2008 (2:28 PM local time in China). The magnitude and location may be revised when additional data and further analysis results are available. There have been no reports of damage.

Source: Reuters

From CNN:

At least six more earthquakes — measuring between 4.0 and 6.0 magnitudes — happened nearby over the three hours after the initial quake at at 2:28 p.m. local time (0728 GMT), the USGS reported.

A spokesman for the Beijing Olympic Committee said no Olympic venues were affected by the earthquake. The massive Three Gorges Dam — roughly 600 km east of the epicenter — was not damaged, a spokesman said.

The earthquake was also felt in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan, and as far away as Hanoi, Vietnam, and Bangkok, Thailand, according to the Hong Kong-based Mandarin-language channel Phoenix TV.

Update: The latest estimates say that over 10,000 have been killed. And it will probably be significantly higher than that as rescuers reach cities that have been cut off due to damages to roads and lines of communication. From CNN: It reported that authorities were yet to reach Wenchuan County — which sits at the epicenter of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake with a population of about 112,000 — because of damage to roads.

[Via USGS]

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