Main developments in the China earthquake

13 May 2008 16:41  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--The following is a summary of the current situation following Monday's earthquake in Sichuan province, southwestern China. 


The earthquake

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake hit China’s southwestern province of Sichuan at 14:28 local time (06:28 GMT) on Monday 12 May. This was followed by several aftershocks, the most serious measuring a magnitude of 6.1 at 07.10GMT on Tuesday.


The population

The death toll at 16:00 local time on Tuesday was thought to exceed 12,000 with another 26,206 people injured and 9,400 buried in the debris, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhau.


Another report said 18,645 people were thought to be buried under debris in Mianyang in northern Sichuan alone, while 3,629 people were confirmed dead there.



The area nearest the epicentre of the quake was reported to be cut off at 07:00 local time on Tuesday and Chinese military forces were trying to clear the road from Dujiangyan to Wenchuan of rocks and mudslides before midnight.


The earthquake closed several major highways and expressways in Sichuan and neighbouring Shaanxi provinces, according to China’s Transport Ministry.


Railway lines in various areas were currently inoperable and around 180 trains were stranded at different locations, the ministry said in a statement.


Stock market

Shanghai suspended share trading in 45 companies, while Shenzhen suspended trades for 21, with fertilizer and petrochemical producer Sichuan Meifeng among those affected.



The earthquake toppled two chemical plants in Shifang and caused an ammonia leak with reports that hundreds of people were trapped beneath the buildings.


A number of fertilizermethanol and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producers closed their operations there for safety reasons.


Jiuyuan Fertilizer shut its 170,000 tonne/year plant and Sichuan Meifeng Chemical shut a urea line.


Sichuan Jinlu, which produces 250,000 tonnes/year of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and 250,000 tonnes/year of caustic soda, closed for safety reasons.


PetroChina's polymer supply was disrupted because of the earthquake and it halted trading in the provincial capital of Chengdu and closed down its southwest sales branch.


Sichuan Chemicals shut down its five melamine lines, which each have a capacity of 12,000-14,000 tonnes/year. Akzo Nobel’s powder coatings plant and BASF's concrete chemicals plant, also in Chengdu, were also shut down.


In the provincial-level of municipality of Chongqing, Kemira’s 20,000 tonne/year polyaluminium chloride plant closed following the earthquake, as did aniline producer Chongqing Changfeng.


Shockwaves were felt at the BP-Sinopec Yaraco acetyls joint venture in Chongqing but no injuries or damage were reported.  


Chongqing Jiantao, based at the Changshou Chemical Zone in Chongqing, shut down its 450,000 tonne/year methanol line but restarted it this morning. 


Two Shaanxi-based methanol producers - Xinrong Chemical and Xinyuan Chemical Co - shut down their respective 50,000 tonne/year units for maintenance because of earthquake damage.


Petrochemicals producer and refiner PetroChina restarted a major 5m tonne/year oil pipeline in China which had been closed due to the disaster.


By: Lucy Craymer
+44 20 8652 3214

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