Dams and Earthquakes

Aftershocks from Sichuan earthquake pose threat of secondary disasters

(April 22, 2013) Shockwaves from Saturday’s magnitude-7 earthquake in Sichuan have placed the region on high alert for secondary disasters from landslides and the potential collapse of 54 earthquake-damaged dams, reports South China Morning Post. The coming rains will promote mudslides and threaten the structural integrity of these dams, geologists warn. Already, a state-of-emergency has been declared for five dams and downstream populations have been evacuated. More than 3,000 hydropower engineers and military personnel are now examining every dam in the region but many areas are still inaccessible. Nine nuclear facilities in Sichuan felt shockwaves too, but have not reported any leaking pipes or ruined buildings. As of Sunday night, the region had experienced 1,642 aftershocks.

By Stephen Chen, published by the South China Morning Post, April 22, 2013

Secondary disasters such as mudslides and dam-related crises may occur in the days or even months after Saturday’s earthquake, threatening the safety of residents and rescuers, geologists warn.

Fan Xiao, chief engineer at the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau in Chengdu, said yesterday the banks along the Qingyi River, in one of the most geologically unstable regions of the province, had taken a big hit.

Known for its high mountains and deep valleys, the area was already unstable before the earthquake, with villages and roads sitting almost in the path of potential landslides, Fan said. And shockwaves from the earthquake could profoundly increase structural instability in the region.

This story continues at the publisher’s website here.

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