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Quake warning system in sight

Hou Liqiang
Updated: Jan 14,2021 09:17 AM    China Daily

As part of a national plan to mitigate damage caused by earthquakes, China is expected to pilot a program that could warn the public of upcoming jolts with a countdown in seconds in key regions, including Beijing, according to the China Earthquake Administration.

The administration aims to complete the building of the earthquake early warning and instant seismic intensity reporting system this June in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei province cluster, as well as earthquake-prone Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in Southwest China, it said.

It also said that apart from sending alerts through devices such as TVs, mobile phones, and warning terminals, the system for quake mitigation can also report seismic intensity within a minute of its occurrence.

Seismic sensors could detect the initial energy that emerges from a quake before the jolt begins. This makes it possible to warn those in affected areas before they feel the impact. With the system, the farther people are from the epicenter, the more time they would have to respond.

Launched in 2018, the system, known as the National Seismic Intensity Rapid Reporting and Early Warning project, aims to include more than 15,000 observation stations across the country, according to a previous release from the administration.

It said 3,360 service terminals will be set in national and provincial government bodies that are related to earthquake relief, as well as in public institutions and vital infrastructure and utilities, such as nuclear power plants.

By 2023, the system will cover five of China's most quake-prone regions, including North China, which covers the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei province cluster, and the North-South Seismic Belt, which encircles most of Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces, it said.

The country will also make accelerated efforts to pilot the system for high-speed railway, the administration said.

While finishing standard transformations in 248 earthquake monitoring stations in 2020, the administration said it has started the construction of a national early warning center.

A special guideline has been in place to address the lack of a national standard for earthquake monitoring and early warning and to regulate the distribution of relevant information, it added.

The country has seen its capability in automatic earthquake reporting increasingly enhanced, it said.

In total, the administration reported 1,063 earthquakes in 2020. The average deviation of the automatic reporting for earthquakes of magnitude 5 or above — compared with more formal, scientific calibrations — has further gone down from the previous 0.35 to 0.15 magnitude. The automatic reporting could serve almost 100 million people within two minutes.