A strong earthquake measuring 7.8 magnitude in Richter scale occurred in the Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province (epicenter: 31 degrees north and 103.4 degrees east) at 14:28 on 12 May 2008. Tremors were reported in Ningxia, Qinghai, Gansu, Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Shandong, Yunnan, Hunan, Hubei, Shanghai, Chongqing, Beijing and many other places.
The Chinese Government is making every effort in organizing earthquake disaster relief and mitigation, rescuing injured people and making appropriate arrangements for people’s living in the earthquake-stricken areas, with a view to restoring the normal order in those areas as soon as possible.
Since the occurrence of the earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) has tried to figure out the specific situation of its staff and facilities in the earthquake-stricken areas through different channels. Up to 08:45 a.m. on 14 May, CMA made successful contacts with all meteorological stations in the disaster areas.
CMA has taken actions immediately after the earthquake, and it has made a series of major operational deployments for providing meteorological services dedicated to the earthquake disaster relief & mitigation by taking the following decisive measures:
- CMA initiated the Category II emergency meteorological service in response to the earthquake disasters in the afternoon of the 12th May, according to which the Provincial (Municipal) Meteorological Bureaus in Sichuan, Chongqing, Shaanxi, Gansu entered into a state of emergency response, and all the meteorological establishments in Sichuan Province entered into the Category I emergency status.
- To intensify the specific weather forecasting service for the earthquake-stricken areas, CMA has increased the frequency of the real-time weather discussions from once to 3 times per day with relevant local meteorological departments in Sichuan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai and Chongqing, where are mostly affected by the strong earthquake. The Central Meteorological Office is providing real-time weather forecasts every 6 hours, the 3-day refined weather forecasts (including rainfall areas and quantitative values in millimeters) and the 7-day weather trend forecasts targeted to the earthquake-stricken areas to the State Council and relevant government agencies respectively. At the same time, efforts have been made to enhance the weather-induced geological disaster forecasts such as potential mud & rock flows and landslides, etc;
- By the morning of 15 May, CMA dispatched three emergency-response working groups to Sichuan, Shaanxi, Gansu respectively to guide the emergent meteorological services for the earthquake disaster mitigation and relief work;
- CMA has strengthened the on-site meteorological services for the disaster relief efforts by sending emergency-response meteorological service vehicles to Wenchuan – the epicenter of the earthquake.
- Weather services are provided for all those survivors who still stay in open air for the time being;
- CMA has also strengthened public propagation of scientific knowledge as how to prevent and to get prepared for weather-induced geological disasters;
- CMA has requested to ensure the safety of meteorological staff exposing to the event and further aftershocks, and to repair the damaged weather monitoring and operational facilities or systems to ensure their proper functions required for maintaining the basic operations.
During this earthquake event, one staff member of a local meteorological office was killed. In addition, some local meteorological stations were very severely damaged. In their combat against this natural disaster, the meteorological staff has demonstrated their good qualifications and inspiring spirit, making every effort to serve for the disaster relief and mitigation. So far, most of the damaged stations have been basically restored and the observations recovered.