More than 10 days before the disastrous earthquake that hit China on May 12, residents in Abazhou of Sichuan had already been discussing that an earthquake might strike. Some called the local Earthquake Prevention and Disaster Relief Board to confirm the news, but the bureau claimed that it was merely a rumour.
A netizen who has an uncle working at the Sichuan Bureau of Seismology said the Bureau had detected signs of a quake coming, but they chose not to report it. He said his uncle called him and said there were signs of an earthquake, but for the sake of the Olympic Games, the Bureau would not let them make the news public on their official website in case people might panic.
Maerkang County Earthquake Disaster Prevention Bureau was told to take measures to find out where the rumour came from and refute it. On May 9, the Sichuan provincial government even put a statement on its official website claiming that it had successfully quelled rumours of an earthquake.
A translation of the statement reads.
May 3, 8pm, The Abazhou Earthquake Prevention and Disaster Relief Board got calls from members of the public, asking whether news that an earthquake would strike Suomo Town of Maerkang County was true. The authorities quickly demanded Maerkang Earthquake Disaster Prevention Bureau to take measures to find out where the rumour came from and to refute it, so as to stop the rumours from spreading further.
The Ma'erkang Bureau quickly contacted Suomo Town Authority, which looked into the matter and claimed that the rumour started because during a teleconferencing on measures against geological disaster, the town cadre misheard it and thought disaster (quake) was mentioned.
“The Abazhou Earthquake Prevention and Disaster Relief Board and the other cadres concerned managed to clear up the misunderstanding in time, and life of the locals is back to normal,” a spokesperson for the Suomo Town Authority said.
This statement was deleted right after the quake. According to many critics, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tends to hide the truth from the people, causing many lives to be lost.
And as early as May 7, there were people predicting a big quake in Wuhan and Sichuan on the Net. But as they had no proof, the news could not be put on an official website. One writer put this entry.
I'm a geologist. Based on the data I've collected, and the discussion I had with my counterparts overseas, I predict that there will be an earthquake on May 12 around Sichuan and Central Hubei. The entire China might feel the tremor. But I can't announce my prediction on an official website because there's no concrete proof. I'm from Wuhan. The epicentre should be quite near Wuhan. I hope Wuhan residents who see my blog notice will inform all your relatives and friends and take precautions.
A netizen from Linyi also put a notice on the net on May 9 that he noticed big patches of seismic clouds. He predicted that a quake measuring over 6 on the Richter scale would take place.
A few days before the quake, many strange phenomena happened too. On May 10, there was a report on West China City Paper that tens of thousands of toads were migrating in Mianzhu of Sichuan. The toads walked on the road and many were crushed to death by vehicles and pedestrians. Some villagers thought it was a bad omen. But the local authorities explained that it was a normal phenomenon. They said it was the peak breeding period for toads. Some experts even claimed that the migration of the toad was proof that the ecological system of Mianzhu was getting better.
In Taizhou of Jiangsu, tens of thousands of toads were also found crossing the roads.
In Enshi City of Hubei, 80,000 tons of water disappeared from a pond named Guanyin on April 26. Whirlpools began to develop at about 7am, and within 5 hours, the entire pond dried up. That was seen as a sign of a quake coming too.