A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Ya'an, southwest China's Sichuan Province, on April 20—the second such disaster to afflict the area following the 8.0-magnitude quake in Wenchuan in 2008. Drawing on prior experience, emergency relief efforts have thus far proven more timely and effective compared to five years ago.
With the earthquake striking the region at 8:02 a.m., helicopters were swiftly dispatched to gather information at approximately 9:18 a.m., and by around 12 p.m., aerial remote sensing images were made available on TV and Internet websites throughout the country. Thanks to accurate information collection, the most seriously impacted areas were quickly identified, af-fording relief teams, utilizing large-scale rescue equipment, a chance to take instant action.
In many parts of the region, citizens were successful in dealing with the aftermath of the quake, thanks to emergency training exercises put in place since the previous disaster.
Social media, such as microblogging and WeChat services, have contributed additional tools to speeding up relief work that were unavailable five years ago. They have not only acted as a medium by which to spread information, but also as a platform for making donations or connecting people with relatives, some of whom might still be missing. Also, due to stringent social media scrutiny, several expressways linking the affected area and the outside still charg-ing toll fees despite the disaster were strongly condemned and subsequently forced to cease such activity.
However, questions regarding the effective speed of relief work have indeed been raised. Such concerns have highlighted the importance of coordination in the case of disaster relief, and also indicated that there still remains much to learn about coping with disaster.