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A wonderland-Three years of China's Wenchuan 8.0 Earthquake Restoration and Reconstruction

14:28:04, May 12th, 2008    

Epicenter: Yingxiu Town, Wenchuan County, Sichuan

Magnitude: 8.0

Moment Magnitude:7.9

Highest Seismic Intensity Scale: 11

Mountains and Rivers Broken 

Homes Reduced to Rubble


May 12th Wenchuan Earthquake was the most damaging earthquake affecting the largest area with the highest degree of rescue difficulty since the founding of new China. The earthquake, with a magnitude of 8.0, the seismic intensity scale of 11 and the hypocentral depth of only 14km, turned the vast land into ruins in a split second. The disaster severely damaged 51 counties in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, covering an area of 100,000 square kilometers. The fracture zone of the earthquake stretched from the epicenter Yingxiu to Wenchuan, Beichuan, and Qingchuan, more than 300 kilometers in length. The sheer scale of damage caused by the catastrophic earthquake shocked the country and even the world-triggering thousands of landslides and mud-rock floods, also creating 104 quake-lakes and more than 30,000 aftershocks. Causing a huge number of casualties, the disaster almost flattened Beichuan County Seat and Yingxiu of Wenchuan, leaving more than 10 million people homeless. The transportation infrastructure was greatly affected, with 21 expressways, 15 state and provincial level roads and 2,756 rural roads seriously damaged. Power supply, communications and water supply systems were almost completely paralyzed. The earthquake caused a total economic loss of 845.1 billion Yuan, with Sichuan accounting for 91.3% of the total loss. A large area of fertile farming land disappeared, a large number of livestock died and a great number of factories stopped production. The central government of China, taking the earthquake relief as the top, most urgent priority, established the quake-rescue and relief headquarter immediately and waged the largest and hardest disaster relief battle in Chinese history. Just one hour after the earthquake, Xinhua News Agency broadcasted President Hu Jintao's order: spare no effort on rescue work and ensure the safety of the people in the disaster area. Just two hours after the earthquake, Premier Wen Jiabao flew to Sichuan to direct the disaster relief on site. At the hardest period of the disaster relief, President Hu Jintao spoke out in the earthquake area---no difficulty will daunt the valiant Chinese people! Many other top leaders of China took the trip to the disaster-hit areas to inspect and lead the disaster relief work during that time.


"Rivers and mountains may change, roads may be blocked, and houses may be torn down, but our determination in the earthquake rescue, victim resettlement and rebuilding our new homes on the ruins will never waver"---this is CPC Sichuan Provincial Committee's commitment to Sichuan people. In the earthquake relief period, 83,988 people trapped in collapsed buildings were rescued, about the same number as those killed or missing and the largest number among previous earthquake disasters. More than 4 million injured people were treated. 5,750, a very small portion of the total 300,000 injured people became disabled. More than 10,000 injured victims were transferred to hospitals outside the province, the largest number ever seen at peace time. In merely 10 days following the earthquake, more than 15 million people were resettled in temporary shelters. Workers labored day and night to repair and reconstruct roads to the disaster-stricken areas, the lifeline to the earthquake relief. Only 3 days after the earthquake, the road from Ma'erkang to Lixian County and Wenchuan County, the first life-pass was put into operation. Only 10 days after the earthquake, telecommunications resumed, and one month after the earthquake, power supply became available in all the towns and townships. More than 16,000 disease prevention staff were involved in epidemic prevention in the 4,185 villages of 446 towns and townships just 15 days after the disaster, which effectively prevented the occurrence of epidemic diseases. 104 quake-lakes were successfully kept under control and 1997 water reservoirs were repaired, with 12,969 geological points with hidden danger checked and treated. Keeping the order in the disaster-hit areas was important. During the earthquake relief period, all relevant organizations worked hard to share information with citizens, help those with urgent needs, and released all information to the society to keep order and stability. Sichuan won the hard and spectacular struggle against the earthquake in all aspects such as rescue, resettlement, transport infrastructure repair, epidemic prevention, secondary disaster prevention and maintaining stability. No famine or refugee situation occurred, no epidemic emerged and no unrest or chaos happened-a miracle in the world history of disaster relief.


The great support and care from the central government, the military and people all around the country gave much confidence and courage to the disaster-affected people to fight against the disaster and rebuild their homes. Top leaders Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang went many times deep into the disaster-hit areas to inspect and direct the reconstruction. Sichuan provincial government, taking the "reconstruction of homes and developing the province into the economic highland in west China" as the guiding principle, made arduous efforts to ensure the work be done steadily on schedule and in a scientific manner. The earthquake devastated land has now taken on a new look, with great vigor and vitality. Historic changes have taken place in the scientific plan with superior quality. Reconstruction is of vital and lasting importance. The whole reconstruction plan is the result of the wisdom of many masters in the country and even in the world. A scientific reconstruction plan was made to avoid the fault zone, the weak points and flood discharge channels. Stringent quality supervision was carried out to make the projects of high quality and even classic projects. Breakthrough development was achieved. A large number of livelihood projects have helped improved the living conditions of the citizens. Now, in the words of the citizens in the earthquake struck areas, "the houses are beautiful, schools are sturdy, hospitals are modern, and the locals are greatly satisfied." The public welfare projects, as well as the housing projects were the first to be completed. 3,002 schools and 1,362 medical and rehabilitation centers have been completed. With the completion of all the other public welfare facilities such as social welfare houses and the community service centers, the public service and social support capability in the disaster-his areas has improved by a large margin.


The goal of the reconstruction is not only limited to restore the life and production, but also is to achieve a striding leap from the disaster, or, in another words, to lay the foundation for long term development. The construction of 6 expressways in the disaster-hit areas is in full swing and 76 of the 88 state and provincial level artery roads have been completed. Within just 16 months, the construction of Chengdu-Dujiangyan high-speed railway was completed and put into operation. A lot of the industrial gardens have been built to revive the industrial economy. Partner assistance has now developed into partner cooperation. The industrial zones co-built with the 18 assistance partners are expected to help Sichuan to restore, and even upgrade its economy. The reconstruction is also an exemplary model of post-quake reconstruction in world history. The central government's creative decision of "one province assisting one disaster-stricken county" has allowed the reconstruction to greatly surpass the expectations of all the people. Now the new wonderful homes have become a base for patriotism education and a model for China's future development. In only 3 years, Sichuan has walked out of the shadow of tragedy and risen from the ruins. And now, this wonderful land, together with the whole country, is on its way to a prosperous future.


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