China / Society

Beichuan earthquake warning system launched

By Li Yao ( Updated: 2013-01-15 21:13

A township devastated by the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province launched a quake warning system on Jan 15 that is expected to give people 31 seconds to escape, China News Service reported.

Beichuan county was among the worst-hit areas when the earthquake struck its neighboring county, Wenchuan, in May 2008 and killed more than 69,000 people.

The warning system works via television network to serve the 160,000 residents of Beichuan. It is a joint effort of the county’s earthquake disaster relief bureau and a high-tech institute based in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.

When a minor earthquake is detected, a scrolling text will be shown on TV.

When a major earthquake is detected, an information window will pop out on TV, giving people a countdown of when it will strike and its possible damage.

The system can give people a maximum of 31 seconds to escape, said Wang Tun, head of the institute in Chengdu.

In the event of an earthquake, if people are warned 3 seconds in advance, casualties can be reduced by 14 percent. If their reaction time is 10 seconds, casualties may drop by 39 percent, the report said, citing earlier research findings.

The warning system has successfully detected more than 1,000 earthquakes. Used by 200,000 volunteers in 28 provinces in China, the system responded correctly and gave warnings for all earthquakes above 2.7 magnitude, the report said.

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