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No earthquake in Beijing during Olympics
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China's seismic monitoring network has detected no signs of a possible strong earthquake in Beijing during the Olympic Games, said a senior expert of China Earthquake Networks Center in Beijing Saturday.

The monitoring network in the area around Beijing is the most extensive in the country. It can detect an earthquake as light as magnitude-1.0 and report it within five to 10 minutes, said Zhang Xiaodong, deputy director of the China Earthquake Networks Center, at a press conference here.

In an area of 150,000 square kilometers between 38.5 and 41 north latitude as well as between 113 and 120 east longitude, there are 107 earthquake monitoring stations, the highest density network in China, Zhang said.

"Our experts are working round the clock to monitor the geophysical changes and analyze the data we collect," he said.

China Earthquake Administration began working with the Beijing city government and the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games (BOCOG) to develop contingency plans in case of earthquakes of different magnitude three years ago, said Yin Chaomin, deputy director of the China Earthquake Administration (CEA), at the same press conference.

Contingency plans are made about earthquake reporting, monitoring on its magnitude and information announcement, he said, "We even built several new monitoring stations near Beijing and another six co-host cities."

Meanwhile officials also rehearsed what to do in face of an earthquake during the Games and these cities also built refuges for the earthquakes, he said.

Beijing has built 31 refuges that are able to hold 3 million people, he said, adding, "According to the contingency plans, we are able to evacuate these people into refuges."

The professional earthquake rescue teams of CEA and Beijing government are standing by, he said, adding, "The Olympic stadiums and many buildings in Beijing are able to stand earthquakes of magnitude-8. There will not be big problems."

So far the country has set up more than 1,200 quake monitoring stations and 15,000 monitoring sites.

In its eastern part and all provincial capital cities, earthquakes as light as magnitude-1.5 can be detected and reported within 10 to 15 minutes and in the rest part of the country quakes as light as magnitude-3.5 can be detected and reported within 20 to 25 minutes.

"But we can not forecast most of the earthquakes though, under certain conditions, we could forecast a certain sort of them," Yin said. "We did not detect typical abnormal signs before the 8-magnitude earthquake on May 12. We felt deeply sorry for not being able to forecast it."

(Xinhua News Agency July 20, 2008)

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