On May 12th 2008 at 2:28pm, a massive 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit Wenchuan county in Sichuan Province, China. It was felt more than one thousand kilometers away in Beijing. 68,000 lives were lost, more than 18,000 people went missing and more than 10 million were left homeless. Between 64-104 aftershocks ranging in 4.0 to 6.1 magnitude were recorded within 72 hours of the main quake. All of the highways into Wenchuan, and others throughout Sichuan Province, were damaged, resulting in delayed arrival of the rescue troops. Dujiangyan city was at the epicenter of this earthquake. Here, eight schools collapsed with thousands of students buried and hundreds dead. Primary and Middle Schools were excavated by civilians and cranes.
The direct economic loss to Sichuan from the Wenchuan earthquake totalled 1.1 trillion RMB (about 160 billion USD). These figures are close to the economic damages estimated for Hurricane Katrina. The government has spent $441 billion dollars on relief and reconstruction efforts. Billions more have come from Foreign aid such as the Red Cross and UNICEF. The Shanghai municipal government matches many of the donations to Dujiangyan. Hundreds of public and commercial buildings and hundreds of thousands of homes have been rebuilt and many more are still under construction. Those still awaiting reconstruction live in temporary homes and villages.
Relief, Reconstruction and Renewal Report on International Investment and Assistance Needs in Sichuan’s Post-quake Restoration and Reconstruction October 2008, McKinsey & Company
Wikipedia: 2008 Sichuan earthquake