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Earthquake paranoia


Rincewind

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A week ago, a rumour started to go round our school that there would be an earthquake in Haicheng city near Anshan (where I am) on either Thursday or Friday. I completely dismissed the rumours. When I asked, who said so, it was always a friend of my mothers or something similar. The typical urban myth. However, the rumours continued all week. Thursday and Friday's classes passed without incident and I went home having arranged to have have dinner with some of the teachers after the school closed at 7pm. When I went back at 7pm, I found the school empty. The students had all been sent home an hour before class was supposed to end.

Apparently, there had been news/rumour of a very small earthquake in Liaoyang city (about 30km north of here). So the children had all been sent home fearing that a big quake was due. In addition, all classes for tomorrow (Saturday) have been cancelled. Checking on the internet, I can find no data for a quake in Liaoyang today. It seems to be just a rumour. However, everyone is so paranoid about quakes now that they are taking every rumour seriously. One student's mother told me that she has put a bottle of water and some food under the table in her house just in case they have to hide there in the rumoured quake.

It's worth noting that the school, which has cancelled tomorrow's classes is the same one as I reported on these forums as having refused to evacuate the building when there was a very real fire back in February. - http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/2-favourite-chinese-musician2389

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Yesterday afternoon, all the schools sent the children outside to stand and did no classes. Today all the schools are closed throughout the city. This isn't just a rumour spread by children. Their parents and teachers are taking it very seriously.

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I think it's a very natural reaction by the school principals; look at the anger in Sichuan about "obvious" signs that the authorities missed before the big earthquake. In the remote chance that an earthquake should strike Anshan, you wouldn't want to be the principal who discarded rumors and left the kids in school.

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"there would be an earthquake in Haicheng city near Anshan...on either Thursday or Friday"

earthquake predictions? that would be something new. or is this prediction based on

someone's friend's uncle's cousin's barber heard that a cow was seen walking backwards

under a full moon?

"put a bottle of water and some food under the table in her house just in case they have to

hide there in the rumoured quake"

....and a can of gasoline plus boxes of fireworks in the closet in case they need to

hide there in case of a large fire.

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For all I heard it's still impossible to predict an earthquake, except after the fact (oh, now I understand why the frogs migrated/the cat woke me up/the fortuneteller said thisandthis!). Plus everything that only comes from tingshuo isn't very reliable.

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Regarding prediction. Haicheng had an earthquake in 1975 which was succesfully predicted. It remains the sole example of a correct prediction - I suspect more by chance than skill. Make enough predictions and one might be right. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Haicheng_earthquake

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