Sichuan earthquake one year report - May 2009

Originally published



One year ago, on 12 May 2008, a massive earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale struck Sichuan Province's Wenchuan County. More than 120 million people in Sichuan and the adjoining provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, Yunnan, and Chongqing were exposed to the moderate and severe shaking effects of the earthquake.

The Wenchuan earthquake left 88,000 people dead or missing and nearly 400,000 injured. The earthquake damaged or destroyed millions of homes, leaving five million people homeless. The earthquake also caused extensive damage to basic infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, roads, and water systems.

On 30 August 2008, a second earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, leaving dozens dead and hundreds injured. This earthquake struck near the same fault line as the Wenchuan earthquake, but was located further south, with its epicentre in southernmost Sichuan's Panzhihua City.

Both earthquakes hit children especially hard. The Wenchuan earthquake, which damaged more than 12,000 schools in Sichuan and 6,500 schools in Gansu, struck during the early afternoon when effectively every schoolaged child was in a classroom. Meanwhile, the Panzhihua earthquake struck two days before the start of the school year, keeping students in the new earthquake zone from returning to school as planned.

One year after the Wenchuan earthquake, the response has shifted to recovery and reconstruction. Much work remains to be done, as survivors of the earthquake rebuild their lives and communities. Recovery and reconstruction programmes are anticipated to continue for an additional two years.