Boxun News, a Chinese-language Web site based outside China, reported that an unnamed expert has claimed that there was a nuclear explosion near the epicenter of the Sichuan earthquake, based on witness reports and the discovery of concrete rubble believed to have come from an underground military installation. The news of this nuclear explosion has raised questions about the cause of the earthquake.
Mr. He, a local resident, stated that when the earthquake occurred on May 12, people saw something erupt from the top of a mountain next to the valley, "It looked like toothpaste being squeezed out," said He. "No, it wasn't [magma]. It was these concrete pieces. The eruption lasted about three minutes."
According to a China News Services (CNS) report on May 31, 2008, paramedics from People's Liberation Army (PLA) hospitals and psychologists from Beijing onsite May 23 found concrete debris at the bottom of a valley near the epicenter. The half-mile-wide valley was covered with debris 10 - 20 inches thick, covering the valley floor for almost 1.5 miles.
No major construction was occurring in the area at the time of the earthquake.
The thickness of the concrete pieces seemed to match that used in China's underground military bases, according to Boxun's expert. He explained that while there are documented cases that earthquakes cause volcanic eruptions, there are no accounts of eruptions ejecting concrete.
Based on the CNS report and timing of the eruption at the scene, there seemed to be no evidence of natural volcanic activity. The expert stated he was certain a nuclear explosion shattered the underground concrete structures, hurling debris into the air.
At least one of China's nuclear military bases is located in Mianyang City, Sichuan, near the epicenter.
Chinese Internet surfers commented that right after the quake military Special Forces blocked traffic heading toward the epicenter on the mountain, and men in white chemical protective clothing in military vehicles were also spotted driving toward the mountain. Rescue personnel near the epicenter were all military, according to witnesses.
The expert believes the nuclear explosion was not confined to the underground test area and has caused radiation contamination, stating that in a call to Beijing he recommended authorities accept help from other countries, seal the area, find and provide help to those who had been exposed to contamination during the rescue work, and take emergency measures to prevent water contamination.
The expert believes that the nuclear explosion caused the recent 8.0 magnitude Sichuan earthquake in China. However, other experts referenced by Boxun withheld judgment as to whether the explosion caused the earthquake or the earthquake the explosion.