We’re coming on 48 hours after the earthquake, and many more things are becoming clear.

First, we were very fortunate.  The epicenter of the quake was 41.5 miles away from us; considering a magnitude of 7.9, it is surprising that our area survived with so little damage.  The two natural reasons for this are the quality of the building construction and the surrounding terrain.  Because both our school and apartment were built within the past 5 years or so, the quality of the work is much more sound.  In our inspection of the school yesterday, we saw superficial cosmetic flaws with some broken plaster at places, but beyond that, very little was wrong.  Chengdu is situated in a flat area but is surrounded by mountains.  The earthquake did not radiate in a perfect circle; rather, the brunt force created more of an oval shape on a map as the effects were felt the greatest on the mountain ridge.  This screen shot shows the epicenters of both the primary earthquake and other smaller but significant seismic activity on Monday.

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So we were fortunate.  Many were not.  The latest estimate of those who died has surpassed 13,000, with more still missing or trapped in the rubble.  Our school is struggling to determine how we best can help out in these situations.  Staff members are gathering supplies and working with the red cross and other organizations to get necessities to those who need them.

Scene of devastation at a school in Dujiangyan (都江堰) which collapsed from the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan, China   Collapsed building in Wenchuan County, Dujiangyan Town, Sichuan, China

Some things still aren’t clear.  Rumors around town are prevalent: we can’t drink the water, the water will be turned off for a whole week, there will be another aftershock at precisely 5.00pm.  We’re skeptical, but the water at all nearby stores has been sold out.  As for timing of the aftershocks, well, they’re batting zero so far.

NBC update – apparently we did make the evening news.  That was odd to think about.

We’re still feeling aftershocks; last count I heard was over 600.  Continue to think of those affected, please.

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