By Wang Juan 

The destructive earthquake in Sichuan on May 12 also hit Hanzhong with a magnitude of 6 on the Richter scale.  There are three main features of the earthquake’s impact: First, it happened so suddenly that people did not have any protection; secondly, the continuation of aftershocks:

Till the end of May, 190 aftershocks above 4 magnitude hit the area of Wenchuan, Sichuan and Ningqiang, Hanzhong, Shaanxi, among them, 30 were measured above 5, and five measured above 6. In Guangping, Qingmuchuan, and Zhongba villages of Ningqiang County, Hanzhong (bordering Qingchuan County, Sichuan), 30 aftershocks above 1.1 happened. The biggest aftershock in Ningqiang was 5.7 magnitudes at 16:37 on May 27; thirdly, the loss caused by earthquake was massive and damage was very serious: In 11 counties and districts of Hanzhong, 233 townships and 2,745 villages and communities were affected, among which 5 counties and districts (Lueyang, Ningqiang, Mianxian, Nanzheng and Hantai District), 28 townships and 208 villages were seriously affected, and Lueyang and Ningqiang were the hardest hit places. The earthquake caused a total of 47 deaths and 1,599 wounded in Hanzhong, and 1.635 million people were evacuated, among them, 535,300 were transferred and settled in safe places. The direct economic loss is about US$1 billion.  Here are some details of the damages caused:


1.      Urban and rural residential houses were seriously damaged. The homes most affected were adobe houses, mud-wood style houses, brick-wood style houses in countryside.  Through May, 17,004 houses collapsed and 72,166 houses were seriously damaged. In Hanzhong, 87,764 houses need to be repaired and rebuild, among them, 2,811 houses are for urban families and 84,953 houses for rural families.

2.      Public facilities such as schools, hospitals and others were destroyed.  In Hanzhong, 1,336 schools (over 60 percent) were directly affected by the earthquake. Some 1,319 school rooms collapsed and 33,474 rooms became dangerous to use. The direct economic loss is about US$90.7 million. In Lueyang and Ningqiang counties, over 95 percent of schools were damaged.  There were 614 medical institutes affected during the earthquake, among them, 2 hospitals at city-level, 44 at county-level and 166 at township-level. The direct economic loss is about US$24 million.  The economic loss of tourism and cultural facilities is about US$31.9 million. Some key protected cultural relics such as Zhang Liang’s Temple, the Temple for the God of River were destroyed or seriously damaged.  Government offices were damaged (12202) and destroyed (452).  In Lueyang, Nanzheng and Yangxian Counties, the impact is most serious and the governments have to rent houses or set up tents as their office to work.  

3.      The earthquake had a serious impact over transportation and communication infrastructure.  In Hanzhong, 1,206 miles of road and 166 bridges were destroyed with a total economic loss of US$33.1 million.  There were 40 bridges, 4 tunnels and 34 culverts on national and provincial roads destroyed. 91 local roads were affected, 110 bridges and 180 culverts were damaged. The base of the Second Hanjiang River Bridge was damaged and cracks appeared on the Jialing River Bridge in Lueyang County.  The communication system suffered a loss of US$4.6 million and 156 telecommunication service stations were broken in Hanzhong.  

4.      Water conservancy and power facility were seriously affected.  The total loss in this area is US$39.2 million. The number of dangerous reservoir increased from original 38 to 57. Of those, several reservoirs in Nanzheng County, Chenggu County and Mianxian County were seriously damaged and are threatening 408,400 people’s life and property in the lower drainage area and affect the irrigation of 254,700 mu. In the downtown area of Hanzhong and 9 counties, 397 water supply projects were damaged at different degrees, which affect the normal water supply for 290,000 inhabitants. More than 50 electricity supply lines were damaged and 14 transformer substations were damaged as well. 

5.      The recent earthquake caused landslide in many places. Originally, there were about 1428 places at risk of geographical disaster in Hanzhong. During the earthquake, geographical structures in those places had changed, causing landslides in 570 places with a total sliding amount of 739,400 cu meters, and created 180 new places at risk. The direct economic loss is about US$19.1 million. Among those places, the situation in Ningqiang County and Lueyang County are the worst, especially the big crack on Fenghuang Mountain which threatens the downtown area of Yueyang. 

6.      It is a heavy blow to industry and agriculture in Hanzhong. There were 885 companies affected by the earthquake with a total loss of US$79.1 million.  Electricity supply in Ningqiang County, Lueyang County and Mianxian County was broken and forced companies in those counties being suspended. It caused a great reduction of local revenue.  In the field of agriculture, 9,108 livestock barns collasped and 23,170 were damaged.  There were many deaths of livestock, damages of agricultural facilities and grains, which brought a direct loss of US$17.2 million.  In downtown Hanzhong City, hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and super markets were suspended temperately, which caused estimated US$1.5 million reduction of business turnover. It is also a heavy blow to the tourism industry since it happened at the beginning of best season for tourism. Everyday, the number of visitors in Hanzhong has shrunk around 30, 000, which caused an estimated loss about US$1.1 million.   The situation has drawn great concern from central communist party committee, the central government, the provincial government and the people all over China and our sister cities abroad. President Hu Jintao, Vice President Xi Jingping, Zhao Leji, Party Secretary of Shaanxi CCPC, Yuan Chunqing, Governer of Shaanxi and many ministers from central government paid official visits to Hanzhong. They visited victims in the disaster affected area and gave their help to the people of Hanzhong. We also received letters from our sister cities: Turnhout, Belgium and Iztmo, Japan, and other cities like Auburn City, Australia. All those letters bring great concern and support to the people of Hanzhong.  At the same time, Hanzhong Government has been doing its best to protect its people, to help people to overcome the difficulties and to minimize the loss from earthquake. Now, the government of Hanzhong is helping people to resume the normal path of life and work, and to rebuild their homes. We are convinced, with the help from others and joint efforts of ourselves, Hanzhong will recover from this disaster in the near future.  

Editor’s note: This report was forwarded from Mary Warpeha, President of the US-China Peoples’ Friendship Association, Minnesota Chapter.  Wang Juan was the tour guide for the group Warpeha led to China in September 2007 as part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Shaanxi-Minnesota Sister City partnership.

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