[Predictable Surprise--The 2008 Sichuan Earthquake]

Harefuah. 2008 Jul;147(7):578-86, 664.
[Article in Hebrew]


A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan Province of China on Monday, May 12, 2008. It was a predictable surprise and the most damaging earthquake since the 2004 Tsunami disaster: over 70,000 dead, about 20,000 missing more than 200,000 injured and almost ten million homeless. The devastating earthquake was accompanied by secondary disasters: multiple aftershocks, mudslides, landslides, rock slides, heavy rains, floods, fires, and hazardous source of chemicals and radiation. This paper represents search and rescue and medical aspects during the first ten days following the earthquake. Specific issues will be discussed such as: the secondary disasters, the prompt response of China leaders, the inexperience of military to cope with problems related to search and rescue, rejection of international assistance maltreatment and poor identification of the dead, collapse of the local health system, 'disappearance' of medical and paramedical personnel, and poor planning of evacuation routes and shelters. Once again we can see that professional first responders and medical personnel tend to respond first to their loved ones. The real first responders in the first 24 hours are always the bystanders, who save more lives than the professionals.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Disaster Planning / methods*
  • Disasters*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*