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Villagers witness pre-earthquake warning signs
( 2003-08-21 16:30) (Agencies)

Villagers say they saw apparent warning signs before the earthquake hit Chifeng city in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region last Saturday.

Hours before the quake, villagers said they witnessed water spurt for over two meters from a river that had been dry for years.

But none of the locals who marveled at the wonder expected an quake would jolt the area, according to villagers from Ar Horqin Banner, one of the worst areas affected by the quake.

About 10 hours before the quake occurred, cellphone signals were suspended for quite some time in Linxi county seat, which is approximately 140 kilometers from the epicenter. Many people believed the problem to be a telecommunications breakdown, but experts attributed it to be disturbance of "abnormal terrestrial magnetism waves".

The earthquake-monitoring station in Linxi county had detected signs of four minor earthquakes two days before the quake and reported them to superior departments, said Jiang Ru, head of the county's earthquake-monitoring station on Wednesday.

"Days before the earthquake, two pigs appeared fretful in the pen and tried to escape. We thought they were ill," said Li Xiaohua, a villager in Gubeikou Village in Aobao Township in Bairin Left Banner.

A woman village folk recalled that she happened to see crowds of sparrows and swallows bumping into walls seemed unable to discern direction during flight.

Usually a range of abnormal phenomena would occur before quakes and relevant departments should spread more knowledge among local people so as to help prepare for such disasters, Jiang said.

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