Tuesday, May 13, 2008

* more on Szechuan's 7.8 earthquake (extracted from straitstimes.com)

Confusion, Warnings in Beijing following earthquake

BEIJING - CHINA'S seismology authority on Monday denied issuing a warning that a strong earthquake could strike Beijing in the evening, following a major quake in the country's southwest.

'We have issued no such warning,' Mr Li Qianghua, a top official at the China Earthquake Bureau, was quoted as saying by the government's main website.

The People's Daily, the ruling Communist Party's main mouthpiece, had reported earlier on its website that a quake measuring between two and six on the Richter scale could hit Beijing late on Monday.

That warning came shortly after a 7.8 magnitude quake far to the south in Sichuan province also was felt in Beijing.

Residents of the capital had been warned to take unspecified precautions.

The earlier warning had said the quake could hit at between 10 pm (0200 GMT) and midnight (0400 GMT) on Monday.

But Li called that report 'false'.

AFP could not get through to the earthquake administration directly by phone.

The Sichuan quake caused buildings in Beijing, 1,500 kilometres away, to sway and forced hordes of office workers to flee buildings. -- AFP

EU, Japan offer aid in China quake

BRUSSELS - THE European Union (EU) offered assistance to China on Monday following the massive earthquake, saying information from the region was 'worrying'.

The European Commission was closely monitoring the situation, a statement said, quoting Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel.

'Actual information is very sketchy but it seems likely that the quake has caused substantial damage over a considerable area, and there are already reports of some loss of life. We are ready to assist if the need arises.'

Japan also told China it was ready to provide as much relief as possible to victims of the quake.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda made the pledge in a message to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, expressing his sympathy following the devastating 7.8-magnitude quake, the ministry said in a statement.

Mr Fukuda said he was 'prepared to provide as much assistance as possible (to China) if necessary', the statement said, without elaborating. -- AFP


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