People pass a collapsed brick wall on Sunday morning in Dezhou city, Shandong province. A 5.5-magnitude earthquake struck Pingyuan county, south of Dezhou, at 2:33 am on Sunday. The quake, which occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers, left 24 people injured. A total of 213 house collapses were reported as of 4 pm on Sunday. Water supply, electricity and communications have not been affected in the area. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY
Warning system saves lives; 21
people injured, 126 houses collapse
A magnitude 5.5 earthquake jolted Pingyuan county in East China's Shandong province out of sleep early on Sunday. The tremor, which was the strongest to hit the region in the past decade, injured 21 people and resulted in the collapse of 126 houses.
An evolved warning mechanism, which is being implemented nationwide, limited the extent of damage in the county, located south of the city of Dezhou, and helped residents remain calm, local authorities said, adding that rescue work was underway.
The earthquake struck at 2:33 am at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers at the epicenter, the Shandong Provincial Department of Emergency Management reported. It was felt in many places in Shandong and Hebei provinces, as well as in Beijing, and quickly became a trending topic on Sina Weibo.
The chances of a stronger earthquake in the epicenter area in the coming days are less, the Shandong government said on its official Weibo account.
Many people received a quake alert on their cellphones several seconds in advance. The Beijing Earthquake Agency said the warning mechanism aims to provide emergency response time for people and special industries.
Zhang Zhixing, 40, a company manager who lives in Beijing's Tongzhou district, said his parents and elder sister, who live in Shandong, called him twice on Sunday morning.
"I was sleeping. Calls from my family woke me up, and I turned on the quake alert setting on my phone. Thanks to technological advances, we now receive timely warnings," he said.
Zhang said the Beijing government is very prompt in sending alerts for possible natural disasters on a regular basis, which come in handy.
"Last week, I received text messages from the Beijing government, warning of heavy rain and flooding. These alerts helped me plan my work and avoid risks," he added.
In recent years, China has strengthened its efforts to build a nationwide earthquake warning system. On June 8, Min Yiren, director of China Earthquake Administration, said at a news conference that the country has developed the world's largest earthquake early warning network.
The network will provide valuable information to reduce earthquake casualties, improve emergency response time for major infrastructure, and drive earth sciences research and international cooperation on disaster reduction, China Media Group reported.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Emergency Management activated a Level-IV emergency response soon after the earthquake rocked Pingyuan county and dispatched a team to Shandong to lead rescue work.
Meanwhile, the Dezhou fire department sent 15 vehicles and 107 personnel to the epicenter. Other cities in Shandong, including Jinan, Tai'an, Liaocheng, and Binzhou, assembled 24 vehicles, 236 fire rescue personnel and sniffer dog teams for Pingyuan.
Jinan, the capital of Shandong, suspended train services for equipment inspection, resulting in delays, according to China Railway Jinan Group.
The earthquake also damaged parts of Pingyuan's gas pipeline network. To ensure the safety of residents, gas supply will be stopped till repairs are completed, local authorities said.
Meng Yuanku, deputy director of the College of Earth Science and Engineering at Shandong University of Science and Technology, said the shallow depth of the earthquake posed a significant threat to people's lives, Hubei province-based Jimu News reported.
"This earthquake may be related to the Liaocheng-Lankao and the Lingxian-Guanxian fault zones. These fault zones are hidden and belong to localized regional fault zones. Generally speaking, the shallower the depth of an earthquake, the more its destructive power. Since the magnitude of this quake was not very high, the damage was limited," he said.