China is holding a day of national mourning for those killed in the Qinghai earthquake a week ago (see my blog of April 14). The death toll has now passed 2,000, with another 175 missing, and 12,000 injured. Tens of thousands have been made homeless, and many are living in tents while temperatures drop below freezing at night.
Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns have been heavily involved in the rescue operation, digging out survivors from the rubble and handing out aid, but according to some reports the authorities have now ordered them to withdraw and leave the work to the army and the government.
Although China has suffered some of the world’s worst earthquakes (see my blogs of July 28, 2009, Jan 15 and 22, and Feb 9, 2010), this region has not been struck by a serious one for at least 100 years. This one happened at a depth of around six miles, and measured about 6.9.
The China Earthquake Networks Centre, however, has warned that the country is in an active seismic period. Last year there were 99 quakes with a magnitude of five or more – five times the annual average.