Ya'an earthquake less disastrous than Wenchuan quake

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The 7.0-magnitude earthquake jolting Ya'an City in southwest China's Sichuan Province Saturday morning is expected to cause less losses than the Wenchuan disaster in the same province five years ago, an expert has predicted.

The Ya'an quake has resulted in serious casualties and economic losses, but it is not expected to be as disastrous as the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan quake that left 87,000 dead or missing in May 2008, said Pan Huaiwen, director of the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The China Earthquake Administration said Saturday afternoon that 71 people were killed in the Ya'an quake.

Possibilities of aftershocks stronger than 7.0-magnitude are small, he said.

But Pan warned of aftershocks and secondary disasters, including landslides, mud-rock flows, and the collapse of caves and riverbanks.

A total of 264 aftershocks had been monitored as of 12 p.m., two of which were above 5.0-magnitude, according to the CENC.

The epicenter of the 7.0 magnitude quake, with a depth of 13 km, was monitored at 30.3 degrees north latitude and 103.0 degrees east longitude.

Jiang Haikun, an official with the CENC's forecasting department, said the Ya'an quake resembles that of the Wenchuan disaster, as both earthquakes were formed in a similar way, occurring on the Longmen mountain fault zone.

Earthquakes on this 500-km belt are not frequent, but very powerful. Twelve quakes above 5.0-magnitude have occurred since 1900, including Wenchuan as the most powerful one, Jiang said.

The Ya'an quake was not an aftershock of the Wenchuan earthquake, he said.

Ya'an has a population of 1.53 million and is known as the hometown of the giant panda. It is about 140 kilometers away from the provincial capital Chengdu City and about 250 km from Wenchuan County.


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