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 M7.9 Wenchuan Earthquake (汶川大地震), 2008


12 May 2008


E of Wolonguan, Sichuan


06:28:01 UTC (14:28:01 CST)


30.969 N (NEIC)


103.186 E (NEIC)


16 kms (NEIC)


Mw 7.9 (HRV), 8.4 (IGP-CEA)


Ms 8.0 (NEIC; CENC)

Additional Info

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A major (M7.0-M7.9 range termed as "major") earthquake struck Wenchuan country in the mountains along the western edge of the Sichuan basin in Sichuan, China, on 12 May 2008 at 14:28 PM local time. It had a magnitude of Mw=7.9 and caused significant damage as well as heavy casualties in the region but no casualties. The Institute of Geophysics, China Earthquake Administration (IGP-CEA) calculated a seismic moment release of Mo=4.4x1021 Nm that corresponds to Mw=8.4. This is the deadliest earthquake on the Chinese mainland since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake that claimed nearly 2,50,000 lives.

This page is only meant to detail the effects of this earthquake in South Asia

This earthquake was centred 7.4 kms E of Wolonguan (Sichuan), China,
28.4 kms E of Dengsheng (Sichuan), China,
41 kms W of Guankou (Sichuan), China,
52.4 kms NE of Qiaoqi (Sichuan), China,
89.3 kms WNW of Chengdu (Sichuan), China,
358 kms NW of Chongqing (Chongqing Municipality), China,
651 kms SW of Xian (Shaanxi), China,
661 kms ENE of Minutang (Arunachal Pradesh), India,
807 kms ENE of Sadiya (Assam), India,

1138 kms NNW of Hanoi, Vietnam,
1455 kms NW of Hong Kong (HSAR), China,
1508 kms NE of Dhaka (Dhaka), Bangladesh,
1560 kms SW of Beijing (Beijing), China,
1744 kms W of Shanghai (Shanghai), China,
1912 kms WNW of Taipei, Taiwan,
1940 kms NNE of Bangkok, Thailand

This earthquake resulted in 69,180 fatalities (provincial figures in parenthesis) in the provinces of Gansu (365), Guizhou (1), Henan (2), Hubei (1), Hunan (1), Shaanxi (122), Sichuan (68,636) and Yunnan (1) provinces as well in Chongqing Municipality (18)  in China as of 1 August 2008. Nearly 4,00,000 people were injured as a result of this earthquake and nearly 5-million left homeless. At least 15.61 million buildings were damaged by the earthquake including 3.13 million that had collapsed. The earthquake was widely felt across much of central, eastern & southern China including as far as Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. It was also felt in parts of Bangladesh, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. At least one foreshock of Ms=4.2 occurred to the north-east of Beichuan on 12 May 2008 at 00:34 AM local time.

If you felt this event in Bangladesh, India or Myanmar, please take the time to fill out a felt report questionnaire.
This earthquake is reported to have also been felt at Dohorpara & Koikha in the Kotalipara Upazilla of Gopalganj district in Dhaka division, Bangladesh accompanied by seismic seiches in ponds. No accounts of this nature were available from adjoining parts of eastern and north-eastern India. Media reports of the earthquake being felt as far as Pakistan appear to be unjustified. A separate tremor was reported on 12 May 2008 from Chaman in Balochistan, Pakistan, at ~11:45 AM PST (~06:45 UTC) that frightened people, sending them outdoors. Earlier on the same day, a M5.2 earthquake centred in the Hindukush mountains was felt in parts of northern Pakistan including at Islamabad at 01:57 AM PST (20:57 UTC).

The 2008 earthquake is the strongest earthquake to occur on the Chinese mainland since the Mw=8.4 Chayu-Upper Assam earthquake on 15 August 1950 that struck the Tibet-Arunachal Pradesh border claiming over 5,000 lives in both China & India. Worldwide, the 2008 earthquake is the deadliest earthquake since the Kashmir earthquake on 8 October 2005 and within China's borders the deadliest earthquake since the Mw=7.5 Tangshan earthquake on 28 July 1976 that claimed around 2,55,000 lives. The Tangshan earthquake along with the Mw=8.3 Haiyuan Earthquake (Ningxia-Gansu) on 16 December 1920 and the Mw=7.7 Gulang Earthquake (Gansu) on 22 May 1927 are the deadliest earthquakes in China since 1900, each resulting in the loss of over 2,00,000 lives.

01) China Earthquakes Network Centre (CENC), Beijing, China.
National Earthquake Information Centre (NEIC), Golden, USA.
03) Harvard Centroid Moment Tensor Solution (HRV), Harvard, USA.
4) Macroseismic information has been compiled by the ASC from reports by local media and local NGO personnel.

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Page Updated: 02 Aug 2008 | Website Disclaimer

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