The International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior (IAS-PEI) and the Asian Seismological Commission met August 1–3, 1996, in Tangshan, China. Twenty years ago, Tangshan was destroyed by the century's worst earthquake, which killed an estimated 243,000 people.
It was the first meeting of the Asian Seismological Commission (ASC), a group formed in 1995 by the IASPEI umbrella, to improve understanding of geological processes in Asia and to mitigate earthquake disasters. Because of its widespread seismic activity, the vast, populated territory of Asia has more catastrophic earthquakes than other regions of the world (see Figure 1). During the period from 1892 to 1992, 50 percent of the world's major earthquakes (magnitude greater than 8) occurred in Asia and the Southern Pacific region. Economic losses of more than $100 billion from the most recent major Asian earthquake that occurred in Kobe, Japan, in early 1995, make Kobe the most expensive earthquake in the world. In September 1993, the Latur earthquake in the stable shield region of southern India claimed 10,000 lives, and although of only 6.1 magnitude, was the deadliest stable continental region earthquake.