Tuesday, October 21, 2014

China: Largest seismic alert network developed

China has built the world's largest earthquake early warning network with over 5,000 earthquake early warning stations that cover large areas of China's main seismic zones, the China News Service reported on Monday.

The Chengdu Institute of Care-life, a prominent seismology research institute in Sichuan Province, announced Monday that with the support of the central government, including the Ministry of Science, and the Science and Technology Department of Sichuan Province, 5,010 earthquake early warning stations have been built across 25 provincial-level regions, allowing the monitoring of nearly 2 million square kilometers, home to around 650 million people.

The network covers 80 percent of China's more densely populated seismically active regions including Southwest China's Yunnan Province and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Wang Tun, director of the institute, told the Global Times that the system has been tested by thousands of earthquakes, of which 18 were destructive.

"Our system has never misinformed us or missed any earthquakes since the project launched in 2011. We successfully detected the 2013 Lushan earthquake, the 2014 Ludian and Yutian earthquakes and every other earthquake that has occurred this year," he said

People can use their mobile phones to download an application that warns if an earthquake is about to occur. Once the system detects an earthquake, it will immediately send out alerts, Wang said.

"When an earthquake occurs, people located within 50 kilometers of the epicenter will be given an alert about 10 seconds prior to the quake. Even if you are not within the affected area, you can still receive notifications about the earthquake including its location, magnitude and time of occurrence," Wang added.

There have been academic studies that claim an alert sent out three seconds before an earthquake can reduce casualties by 14 percent. An alert 10 seconds prior can reduce casualties by 39 percent while an alert that comes 20 seconds before a disaster can reduce 63 percent of casualties.

Wang, however, said that many people are not familiar with the earthquake early warning system and therefore it is the government's responsibility to increase public awareness of these alerts.

"There are only 1 million people using the early warning services, less than one percent of the 650 million people in areas covered by our network," he explained.

By Agatha Yuen Source:Global Times  

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