China Accused of Covering Up Quake Damage
Claims from Chinese officials that the majority of buildings built after the devastating 2008 earthquake didn’t collapse in Saturday’s magnitude-7 temblor in Sichuan faced criticism from rights groups and quake survivors as the province was rocked by a smaller tremor on Friday.
Friday’s 4.8 magnitude earthquake jolted Sichuan’s Yibin city, injuring 61 people, just six days after a larger quake in Lushan county left more than 200 people dead or missing and around 12,000 injured.
Reconstruction work was beginning on Friday, meanwhile, in the wake of the Lushan quake, amid official claims that stricter building rules brought in after 2008 had proved effective.
Official media quoted Qiu Jian, chief planner of the provincial housing and urban-rural development department, as saying that most of the buildings that collapsed in the earthquake near Ya’an city were built by local people.
“As for the buildings constructed as part of post-quake programs following the  earthquake, none of them collapsed though these buildings bore some cracks or broken walls,” Qiu told reporters.
He said a team of more than 400 experts had determined that post-2008 buildings were largely up to anti-quake standards.
A total of 186,300 rural buildings collapsed in the quake and about 430,000 homes were gravely damaged, provincial officials told a news conference on Thursday.
The claims were disputed by local residents and activists, however.