ShakeMap (Calculated intensity of this China earthquake):
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A severe earthquake hit the Chinese province of Sichuan on Monday. The epicenter of the earthquake was around 200 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu in the district of Luding. According to the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam, it reached magnitude 6.6. The focal depth was about 10 to 15 kilometers.
The high magnitude and shallow depth resulted in strong intensities in the mountainous epicentral area. For China, it is the worst earthquake disaster of the year. The latest civil protection figures speak of at least 66 fatalities in the two affected districts of Moxi and Luding. The search is still ongoing for 12 other people believed to be under the collapsed buildings. In addition, 248 people were injured.
Rescue workers have set up emergency shelters for more than 50,000 people affected in the earthquake region. The number of buildings damaged is around 13,000, but the count is ongoing. The situation along the steep slopes continues to be problematic: Special forces have so far identified and investigated around 500 landslides, and some still have a high risk of slipping aftershocks, so 11,000 people have been evacuated for safety reasons. In addition, numerous roads were damaged and destroyed by the landslides, and at least two of the fatalities are directly attributable to the landslides.
Since 1960, 7 earthquakes larger than Magnitude 6.6 were detected in this region. This makes an average of 0.13 earthquakes larger than M6.6 per year in China. Therefore, the general earthquake activity is usually very high and quakes of this size have an average recurrence time of approx. 7.7 years (92 months).
Largest earthquakes in this map section* (China and nearby)
*Data: USGS (Magnitude 5 +, since 1960)
What to do in case of an earthquake?
1. No panic.
2. If you are inside a building: Seek shelter under stable furniture (e.g. dining table). Be aware of falling objects. Do not flee the building! Falling roof tiles, bricks, and glass can harm you. After the shaking stops: Turn off the electronical devices. Check gas pipes for leaks. Check for structural damage. Leave your house if you are uncertain. In case of damage: Do not enter the building before a professional safety check! Dangerous aftershocks might follow. Help your neighbors if necessary. If outdoors: Keep away from buildings, try to find open space, crouch down, and cover your head with your arms. Do not run on the streets before checking for cars. Always watch your environment.
3. If you are near the coast: In case of strong or long-lasting shaking evacuate to higher grounds immediately! A tsunami might be possible. Do not wait for official warnings. In areas of the high tsunami threat, follow the evacuation route signs but be aware of possible damaged buildings and landslides on your route. Once reaching a higher / save point, listen to official instructions and warnings.
4. If you are in the mountains or near a steep slope: Watch for rockfalls, landslides, and avalanches. Get away from slopes immediately and protect your head with your arms.
5. Try to help people in need. Take special care of elderly people and children. After the earthquake stopped, confirm that your neighbors, friends, and family are saved. Help them, if necessary but do not get yourself into a dangerous situation. Call and wait for professional rescue teams.