Tuesday, June 3, 2008


CHINESE officials ignored warnings from five eminent seismologists that a strong earthquake would strike the mountainous province of Sichuan this year, including one forecast that almost exactly predicted the date of the tremor that killed more than 68,000 people.

The Government appeared to be trying to suppress evidence of the warnings last week and none of the seismologists could be traced for an interview.

The four seismologists, Long Xiaoxia, Yan Junping, Sun Hu and Wang Zuzheng, calculated that stress factors along the Sichuan-Tibet tectonic fault indicated that a quake measuring above 6.7 on the Richter scale would strike this year. They suggested the Government should set up emergency headquarters and organise local disaster teams to train city dwellers and farmers how to protect themselves.

The fifth expert to issue a warning is said to be in seclusion, afflicted by heartache over the loss of so many children.

Geng Qingguo, a renowned seismologist, had come out off retirement to present his dire predictions to a meeting of specialists on April 26 and 27. Geng outlined his calculations that an earthquake of more than 7 on the Richter scale would occur along the boundaries of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. He even predicted that the most likely date would be within 10 days of May 8.

The scientist dispatched a copy of his findings to the State Earthquake Bureau in Beijing on April 30. Once again, nothing seems to have been done.

The quake struck with a Richter scale force of 7.9 on May12.

None of this would be known but for the fact that one of Mr Geng's colleagues, Li Shihui of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, disclosed the whole story in his blog after the earthquake.

"His opinion was not accepted by the State Earthquake Bureau," Dr Li wrote, "and when he heard of the Sichuan earthquake he tried to cry, yet no tears would come, so heavy was his heart."

Neither Dr Li nor Mr Geng is now available for comment, as the public anger intensifies. Access to the blog has been blocked by web censors. …..theaustralian

No comments: