Early yesterday morning, Zhu Wenqing 祝文清 had just arisen from bed in Majiagou 马家沟 village, Min county 岷县, Gansu, when he heard a spectacular boom. He rushed outside and watched as the building he had just exited began to sway violently, and moments later, collapse from an aftershock. Many neighbors were not so lucky, as newspapers are reporting today with headlines around China exclaiming “Magnitude 6.6 Earthquake Yesterday in Gansu: 89 Dead, More than 500 Injured” (甘肃昨发生6.6级强震89人遇难800余人伤).
Coverage this morning is wall to wall, with nearly every paper in China giving front page space to the earthquake. Those few papers which did not display the earthquake instead featured full page ads and relegated the story to the second page. Interestingly, the Business Daily of International Tourism Island, (which was the subject of our post on the chengguan and the death of the water melon vendor last week) awarded its front page to yet another report on police brutality, while this morning’s Chutian Citizen (楚天民报) and Chutian Bulletin (楚天快报) for some reason did not cover the earthquake at all.
According to the top story, “Never Give Up” (不言放弃) in the Yimeng Evening Post from Linyi, Shandong province, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck Gansu yesterday morning at 7:45 AM roughly 250 kilometers from the provincial capital of Lanzhou, affecting an estimated 900,000 people in 29 cities and villages. Although the epicenter of the quake lay twenty kilometers beneath the border of rural Min (岷) and Zhang (漳) counties, tremors were felt as far away as Xi’an, Shaanxi province. Initial reports included 89 confirmed deaths, 517 injuries, and 14 reported missing persons, as well as the collapse or severe damage of nearly two-thousand buildings, resulting in 1.98 billion yuan of damage.
Pictures of orange-clad emergency personnel and soldiers in camouflage fatigues searching through the rubble blanket the covers of nearly every Chinese newspaper today, as the gallery below illustrates. All though some reports varied slightly in specific details (occasionally within the same article), the presentation of the event was relatively uniform, focusing on the specific numbers of people, buildings, land, etc., affected.
Although the Gansu earthquake was dominant on today’s front pages, not all papers followed suit, as the gallery below illustrates. There was no room on the Nanyang Evening News, Yangcheng Subway News, and Spring City Evening News since ads occupied the entirety of their front pages. Readers of all three papers, however, could find the story on page two. Somewhat inexplicably, news of the quake was absent entirely from the Chutian Citizen and Chutian Bulletin. Both, owned and published by the Hubei Daily Media Group (湖北日报传媒集团 ), reported a variety of other news, while other papers, such as the Chutian Metropolis Daily, belonging to the same company, featured the story as their leading headline.
Once again apparently bucking the trend, this morning’s Business Daily of International Tourism Island ventured into controversial waters and featured as its main story “I was Beaten by the Police” (我在派出所被民警殴打). On June 20, one Mr. Ye, a resident of Santan village (三滩村), Hainan province, was sitting at home watching television when a band of men “from the police station” (派出所来的人), arrived without warning and arrested him. Soon after, the group took Ye to the police station office where they hand-cuffed him and locked shackles on his feet. Once Ye was thoroughly immobilized, one of the officers let loose a kick to the back of his head. The others joined in, taking turns kicking and punching the captive. When Mrs. Ye arrived to help her husband, she found him kneeling in front of the police officers. “I started swearing at him: ‘Why would you kneel in front of them? They don’t have the right to make you kneel’! My husband screamed at me to call a friend of his and tell him to call the police and tell them to stop beating him”.
By 5:00 PM, the police had freed Ye. The cause of all the ruckus? A week earlier, Ye had sold a piece of rosewood to a local rosewood dealer. Ye never suspected that when the man called him a few days later claiming that the piece of Rosewood (a different piece, according to Ye) was fake and would call the police unless Ye gave him a refund, that he would actually show up with the local gendarmes to carry his threats through.