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Impact of intensity and loss assessment following the great Wenchuan Earthquake

Yuan Yifan

Institute of Engineering Mechanics, China Earthquake Administration, Harbin 150080, China

Abstract: The great Wenchuan Earthquake occurred on May 12, 2008 in the Sichuan Province of China, and had a magnitude of 8.0. It is the most serious earthquake disaster in China since the great Tangshan Earthquake (Ms=7.8, July 28, 1976). According to official reports, there were 69,225 deaths, 379,640 injuries and 17,939 missing as of Aug. 11, 2008. The China Earthquake Administration quickly sent hundreds of experts to the field immediately after the event, to investigate the damage and assess the economic losses. This paper emphasizes the impact of seismic intensity and presents a preliminary loss assessment. A brief description of the geological features of the affected region is provided, followed by a summary of the earthquake damage. An isoseismal map is developed that shows that the high intensity region is distributed like a belt around the seimogenic fault, and that the epicentral intensity reached XI (Chinese Intensity Scale, similar to the Modified Mercalli Scale). The direct economic loss resulting from the earthquake is 692 billions RMB (about 100 billions US$).

Keywords: Wenchuan Earthquake; isoseismal map; earthquake intensity; earthquake damage; direct loss

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Copyright© 2009 IEM. Journal of Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Vibration. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as described below, without written permission from the Publisher. Copying of articles is not permitted except for personal and internal use, to the extent permitted by national copyright law, or under the terms of a license issued by the National Reproduction Rights Organization of China.