SYDNEY—An Australian tourist has described how the ground twisted and flexed as he was running from an massive earthquake in south-western China.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck yesterday afternoon near Chengdu, the capital of the south-western province of Sichuan, flattening schools, factories and leaving at least 8,500 dead, according to official figures.
Australian Geoff McGuigan was at Chengdu airport when the earthquake hit and described the panic as the intensity worsened.
"Everyone started to yell and scream and there was this huge wall of humanity running towards me and the door," Mr McGuigan told the Seven Network today.
"I wanted to be one of the first out of the door and luckily enough I was.
"The main glass in the windows was bulging out like bubbles about to burst.
"(Outside) the road was really moving and it was becoming more intense and really powerful and I looked around and realised that I was on an elevated road - I'd come out of the second storey of the terminal.
"As we went you could see it (the road) move and shudder and twist and flex as it became more intense.
"As we got closer to getting to the ground level one of the expansion joints between the sections of the roadway - the road lifted at the joint from one side and then just slipped back down again."
Mr McGuigan said Chinese authorities were quick to react.
"The airport terminal was probably cleared out and evacuated in less than half an hour," he said.
"Once we were out of the terminal the emergency services kicked in immediately ... the police were on the job almost immediately and then some military presence arrived also.
"The Chinese are fairly prepared for many things and things just clicked into place."
Mr McGuigan said since the quake, which occurred at about 2.30pm local time, there had been a "steady stream of small tremors and aftershocks".
"Some activity is going on most of the time, you can feel it through the soles of your feet," he said.
"The building sort of shakes and shudders and it's like you get a chill and your whole body shakes a bit.
"That's the sensation, but then you get the noises that come with it, the building groaning ... and squeaking."