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Drill not cause of quake rumor

[ 2010-02-23 11:46]     字号 [] [] []  
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Authorities in northern Shanxi province yesterday denied that Sunday's earthquake rumor was sparked by an emergency drill.

Rumors that a destructive 6.0-magnitude quake would strike the cities of Jinzhong, Changzhi, Jincheng and the provincial capital Taiyuan on Sunday morning sent tens of thousands of people fleeing outside into the freezing cold.

The People's Daily Online reported that people used loudspeakers to wake their neighbors in some villages. Locals were told that they should get out of bed and leave their houses to avoid injury in the earthquake.

Earlier reports said the public had misunderstood an earthquake drill at hospitals in early January and thought that a strong earthquake was likely to occur. A text message about the possible quake was widespread.

Local authorities told China Daily yesterday that no such earthquake drills had been performed recently in Shanxi.

The rumors triggered widespread panic and city residents spent the freezing night in the streets, parks or cars, while panicked villagers were woken up by loudspeakers at midnight.

Officials responded immediately. The Shanxi earthquake administration denied the rumors about 6 am online on Sunday and text messages, television and radio were used to tell residents not to believe or spread the rumors.

"We responded immediately after we heard about the rumors and told the public through all kinds of means like the Internet and television that the earthquake rumor was groundless," Zhao Xinping, director of the local earthquake administration, told Xinhua yesterday.

Only the State Council and provincial-level governments are authorized to issue earthquake forecasts, Zhao said.

Officials are still trying to figure out how the rumors started.

Anyone who spreads rumors can be fined up to 500 yuan ($75) and be detained for five to 10 days.

On Jan 24, the China Earthquake Administration detected a 4.8-magnitude earthquake in Yuncheng county, Shanxi, which damaged hundreds of houses.

The rumor also influenced neighboring Hebei province and the province's earthquake administration responded yesterday on its website saying no destructive earthquakes are likely to happen in the near future in Hebei.


1. What was the magnitude of the rumored earthquake?

2. Whose job is it to issue official earthquake forecasts?

3. What is the fine for spreading rumors?


1. 6.0.

2. State council and provincial-level governments.

3. 500 yuan.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Drill not cause of quake rumor

Drill not cause of quake rumor

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for China Daily for one year.