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Aftershocks from China's major Wenchuan quake to continue 10-plus years: expert


20:55, December 21, 2011

CHENGDU, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Aftershocks from the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in southwest China that left over 80,000 people dead or missing will continue for a very long time, an expert said Wednesday.

"Aftershocks of magnitude 5-6 are still likely to strike the area, but those above magnitude 7 are unlikely," Liu Jie, director of the Forecast Department under the China Earthquake Networks Center, told Xinhua on the sidelines of a seminar in Chengdu, capital of the southwest Sichuan province.

An 8-magnitude quake hit Sichuan and neighboring Gansu and Shaanxi provinces on May 12, 2008, leaving 87,000 people dead or missing. Sichuan's Wenchuan county was the epicenter of the devastating quake.

In terms of the intensity and scope of destruction, the quake is believed to have surpassed the 7.8-magnitude quake in 1976 in Tangshan, northern Hebei province, which claimed more than 240,000 lives.

"The timespan for aftershocks from a major quake is usually about a tenth of that of the quake's energy accumulation," Liu said. "The Wenchuan quake went through a long period of time for energy accumulation, so it will take a long time to completely release the energy."

For instance, he said, the Tangshan quake hit in 1976, but the city still saw a 5-magnitude quake in 1995.

"Aftershocks in Wenchuan will occur within the foreseeable 10-plus years, but a major quake is unlikely," he said.

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