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China builds world’s largest earthquake early warning system

A staff demonstrates earthquake early warning system to a reporter in south China's Guangdong Province, October 17, 2019. /CFP


The main construction task of China’s earthquake early warning system has been completed, and final completion and acceptance is expected to be completed by the end of this year, according to Min Yiren, head of the China Earthquake Administration (CEA).

Channel 1

The country has carried out the construction of an earthquake early warning system since the 1990s and started building its earthquake early warning and instant seismic intensity reporting system in several high-stakes regions in 2018, aiming to inform the public of upcoming earthquakes with a countdown in seconds and report the seismic intensity of an earthquake within a minute of its occurrence.

Min said at a press conference on Thursday that the system is the world’s largest earthquake early warning system, making a leap in shortening the delivery of earthquake information from a minute to a few seconds after an earthquake starts.

According to research published by the Northwestern Seismological Journal in 2002, being aware of an earthquake three seconds ahead can save 14 percent of casualties, 10 seconds can save 39 percent of casualties and 20 seconds can save 63 percent of casualties.

Expected to boost quake mitigation, the system can send alerts through various devices, including TVs, mobile phones, broadcasts and other warning terminals.

The system now covers over 15,000 monitoring stations, three national centers, 31 provincial centers and 173 prefectural and municipal information release centers. A trial operation for public early warning services has been available in some of its quake-prone areas, including southwest China’s Sichuan and Yunan provinces, north China’s Beijing and Tianjin municipalities and Hebei Province, and east China’s Fujian Province, according to Min.

He added that the system has overcome several technical problems, such as multi-network integration and information release to massive users within one second.

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