Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Zhouqu Landslide - update

Here's a couple of quotes from Professor Chen Ningsheng about the Zhouqu landslide that left 1785 dead or missing. He's a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment and specializes in mudslide prevention.
"The building quality of these dams was so bad. They were too flimsy to hold the massive avalanche of rocks and mud rolling down from the hills."
"Given the millions of yuan we spent on these projects, the quality of the dams was certainly substandard."
"Apparently there are some problems with the design. For instance, I can't find any sign of auxiliary dams, which are normally built beside the main dams to support them - though it could be that [the auxiliary dams] were completely destroyed by the mudslides."
This just reeks of embezzlement by government officials.
"I certainly hope relevant government departments will look into this and launch an investigation."
Label me a pessimist for this, but from precendence, this isn't going to happen and even if it does, nothing will come of it. The government knows who is at fault (themselves). An investigation will just mean that the government will get someone to act as the scapegoat so they can act like they did something. Remember what happened with the melamine-laced milk powder case? Someone took the fall. And now, there's still melamine-laced milk powder out on the market.
"Some of these structures had been there for 10 years. We wouldn't be able to find out who was in charge of the project at the time."
Wow. I had to read this sentence a couple of times because I kept thinking I was reading it wrong. Note that I'm not blaming Prof Chen here. He's just stating the facts. The fantastic part of this statement is that he's implying that there are no reliable records dating back just 10 years. I can understand if it's 100 or even 50 years. But damn it, 10 years! No one can find out who built a friggen dam just 10 years ago?!

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