Earthquake Prediction Program and the People's Republic of China



At five o'clock in the morning of March 8, 1966, a devastating earthquake struck a rural area near Hsingtai, Hopei Province, 300 km southwest of Peking. Although the magnitude was only 6.8 the damage was severe and widespread; over thirty communes in four counties were seriously affected. The official death toll is not available, but, if the village of Sha Wan (which I visited) 30 km from the epicenter is typical, it must have been considerable. Seventy percent of the houses in Sha Wan collapsed and the rest were unfit to live in. Virtually all of its 330 families were left homeless. However, with extensive help from the army and inspiration from the visit of Premier Chou En-lai, the people of Sha Wan and the other damaged villages quickly rebuilt their houses while they continued their agricultural work. This time they built with brick, mortar, and large wooden beams rather than with mud. Now the area is more prosperous than it was before the earthquake.