China rocked by another earthquake.

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Another earthquake has rocked western China, devastating the city of Yushu in Qinghai province. Situated on the Tibetan border, Yushu’s population of 80,000 consists mainly of Tibetan and Mongolian farmers. It was reported that something like 85 percent of the towns buildings have been destroyed, with rescuers forced to use nothing but their hands and muscles due to lack of heavy excavation equipment.

The death toll is sitting around the 590 mark with over 10,000 believed to be injured. Unfortunately both numbers are likely to rise exponentially, though it shouldn’t get anywhere near the disastrous death toll of the massive Sichuan earthquake several years prior.

The earthquake registered at 6.9 and will leave hundreds – if not thousands- stranded without shelter in the freezing cold conditions. The military have been dispatched to assist, but entry to and from the region has been made all the more difficult by road blockages.

There are two major factors that contribute to earthquake deaths in China. Firstly, with such large population density, any disaster of this nature is inevitably going to claim large numbers of lives. Considering how many people live in and around Chongqing, it was unsurprising to see just how many deaths occurred in that particular earthquake. With so many people living in one place, sadly it’s inevitable.

Secondly, the buildings are not remotely made to withstand such earthquakes. Many multi-story structures simply fold over like a deck of cards and already there have been reports of students trapped or crushed within their classrooms. I always think back to the classrooms I taught in; particularly on the fifth level, and how if an earthquake had hit Wuxi, the whole building would have simply fallen in on itself. With over fifty students per room, seventeen classrooms and a further two buildings containing exactly the same – you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand just how potentially bad that could be – and was, in Chongqing.

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