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Quake or quality: what causes collapse?
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Damage caused by a seismic wave in Dujiangyan shows the complicacy: its destructive power gradually diminished from Longmen Mountain to the alluvial plain, but strengthened when it reached Juyuan town. It diminished again in Pixian and strengthened once more in Chengdu.

Public queries

The statement of experts sounds reasonable – no earthquake, no collapse – but some find it unconvincing.

China Youth Daily said on June 5 that the public has been expecting a more scientific explanation and questions the quality of experts' statements.

The editorial stated that the public wants to know about the quality parameters of the collapsed buildings such as the cement grade and steel bar grade used in their construction.

"Are they qualified? Is it true that the steel bars used are as thin as chopsticks like some media have reported? Is it real that the so-called 'steel bars' are only iron wires? Is there any hidden danger in the original building design? The experts just skipped these questions," the editorial said.

Building industry suspicion might be fueling the public's apparent dissatisfaction with expert explanations thus far.

In China's infrastructure building industry, it is common knowledge that design standard does not always mean construction quality. To slip more money into their pockets, some contracting teams might do shoddy work and use inferior materials, making collapse inevitable during a disaster.

Whether these quality problems existed in the buildings razed by the earthquake is still unknown and only backed by speculation. However, it appears that the public is fervently expecting a more detailed response than what has been delivered by experts, concluded the editorial.

(China.org.cn by Fan Junmei, June 6, 2008)

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