Some residents felt "dizzy" while others reported that chairs
they were sitting in appeared to be pulled by "invisible hands".
But an earthquake which jolted a county near the Chinese capital at
midday yesterday appears not to have injured anyone or
significantly damaged property.
"The quake, measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, caused no injury
to either humans or animals but left cracks on at least 210
houses," said Ma Yingcai, an official in Wen'an County in north
China's Hebei Province which borders Beijing.
Immediately after the quake, which hit at 11:56 AM, the local
government set up a rescue headquarters, sent assessment staff to
villages and used TV and loudspeakers to inform the 430,000
residents of the area what had happened, said Ma.
People whose homes were damaged had been relocated, he
Aftershocks were expected to hit the region but they'd probably
be smaller than the midday quake, Huang Jianfa, a division director
of the China Seimological Bureau told China Daily.
"It's normal for less severe aftershocks to occur within a week
following a major tremor," said Huang. He was among a team sent in
by the earthquake agency early yesterday afternoon to carry out
monitoring and assess damage in Wen'an.
At least 17 earthquakes similar to this occur in China every
year, Huang said.
The impact on the county was less than expected and it seemed
the earthquake had aroused stronger reactions in Beijing and
Tianjin than in Wen'an which appeared to have been almost unscathed
by events, Huang told a news briefing later.
A scheduled open-air movie show went ahead as planned in Wen'an
last night with several hundred people watching in a square with
pedestrians and traffic filling the streets as usual.
In Wenxinyang Village 360 primary pupils will continue their
classes elsewhere today after big cracks appeared in their school
which led to it being classified as "a dangerous building," said
schoolmaster Ma Jinming.
Sun Ronghua, the only doctor in the worst hit Bijiafang Village,
said she received no patients injured in the quake yesterday
The earthquake did, however, alarm people.
Villager Bi Chunying, 58, said he was going to keep his door
open at night and sleep with his clothes on.
Seismic shocks spread to Beijing, 120 kilometers north; Tianjin,
80 kilometers northeast and even as far as Shandong and Shanxi
provinces yesterday at noon before finding their way into the
headlines in cyberspace.
Wang Yelun, a Beijing resident, said he was startled when
sitting in a restaurant as he felt as though someone was pulling
his chair. "Many people realized it was an earthquake and rushed
out of the restaurant," he said.
A woman patient at No 1 Central Hospital in Tianjin, who
identified herself only as Wang, said at first she thought her
relatives were shaking her bed and she felt "dizzy" when it shook
for a third time.
For many people yesterday's quake was a reminder of the
catastrophic earthquake which devastated the city of Tangshan 30
Also in Hebei Province, about 200 kilometers east of Beijing,
the Tangshan earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, left
240,000 dead and 160,000 seriously injured.
Experts with the China Seimological Bureau advised Beijing
residents not to believe rumors or panic as buildings in the
capital were designed to resist earthquakes with a seismic
intensity scale rating of VIII, the Xinhua News Agency
The seismic intensity scale is a way of rating the effects of an
earthquake at different sites. Intensity ratings are expressed as
Roman numerals with I at the low end and XII at the high.
Rescue Work Under Way in Quake-hit County
By late Tuesday night there were no reports of casualties after
a quake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale jolted Wen'an County in
north China's Hebei Province at Tuesday noon.
The county started its quake emergency plan immediately after it
was hit by the quake at 11:56 AM (Beijing Time) Tuesday making
information available about the incident through the media, said a
county government source.
A team had been set up to organize rescue work and township
officials have been requested to report damage and casualties, said
Township officials have gone to villages to investigate and will
evacuate those whose houses had been damaged, said the source.
All primary and middle schools have been closed for safety
purposes and end-of-semester exams scheduled for July 5-6 have been
At 10 PM Tuesday damage assessment continued but there's no
report of any casualties, the source said.
The quake was also felt in Beijing, Tianjin and parts of Hebei,
Shandong and Shanxi provinces, according to the China
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily July 5, 2006)