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2013 China Earthquake -- Reconnaissance Team Journal

    ASCE-TCLEE Team Conducts Two-Day Earthquake Damage Survey

    2013 China Earthquake Epicenter MapA 6.6 magnitude earthquake devastated an area of Sichuan province in southwestern China on April 20, 2013, taking the lives of more than 200 people and injuring 12,000 others. Tragically, the temblor struck along the same fault line as a 7.9 magnitude quake that rocked the region in May 2008. With reports of extensive damage to lifeline infrastructure, including water, telecommunications and power, a three-person team from ASCE and the Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering toured the towns of Lushan and Ya’an, beginning May 28. Its mission: to study the severity of damage, to see if lessons from the 2008 quake had been applied, and if so, to assess how successful those efforts were in terms of saving lives and limiting damage and disruptions. The team is composed of John Eidinger, P.E., M.ASCE, as leader, with Alex Tang P.E. F.ASCE, and Craig Davis, P.E., M.ASCE. It is documenting its findings in the context of how they would apply in the United States.

    In this daily journal, Tang relays a first-person account of the team's experiences and informal findings during their exploration of the earthquake zone.

    Day 1 – Arrival, Introduction

    Our team consists of John Eidinger as team leader, plus Craig Davis and me, Alex Tang. The team was organized out of convenience with consideration to reducing travel costs, as the members are attending the 6th Trilateral (China-Japan-US) Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Symposium in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. The symposium is partially sponsored by ASCE. The proceeding will be published by ASCE.

    The two cities heavily impacted by the magnitude 6.6 earthquake on April 20, 2013, are Ya’an (雅 安) and Lushan (芦 山). These cities are about 120 km southwest of Chengdu. This earthquake ruptured an adjacent segment of the fault system (Longmanshan 龙 门 山 Fault) that produced the Wenchuan magnitude 7.9 earthquake of 2008. Reports by news media indicated significant damage was sustained by telecommunication, electric power and water supply systems, as well as more than 200 casualties. The mountainous terrain also created significant landslides and rock falls, which blocked the only highway access to these two cities. PLA was immediately called in by Central Government to perform emergency response and rescue.

    Both South West Jiaotong University and Sichuan Association of Science and Technology (SAST) provided the team with logistical support of a two-day investigation of the lifeline performance. A permit to access the cities was obtained from the government for a team of six persons plus a driver. Due to limited or no hotel available in the area, we will be travelling from Chengdu each day. Due to recent heavy rainfall in the area, landslides frequently occurred along the highway G5, 108 and 318 National Road leading to Ya’an and Lushan from Chengdu. We really appreciate the effort by Professor Ma and Director Cui. Also meetings will be set up by SAST to collect electric power, telecommunication and water supply information, as well as meeting the Deputy Secretary of Sichuan Earthquake Department.

    Both John and Alex have extensive experience of earthquake lifeline performance. Craig is the expert of geotech matters relating to both electric power and water system.

    We (TCLEE investigation team members) would like to acknowledge the efforts of both John Segna and Catherine Tehan that helpied us obtain funding approval.

    We will email daily reports of our observations and photos to ASCE for posting here on the Society's website. Watch for those reports.