Saturday, May 17, 2008

Earthquakes and frogs-oh my!

Earthquake portents and conspiracies

As we saw previously, the aftershock of natural disasters spreads out into the realm of the uncanny knock some unusual items off the shelf of the strange. This time round it is the China earthquake.

First up we had omens of biblical proprotions with a plague of frogs heralding the oncoming crust convulsions. Ironically ahead of time scientists dismissed it and afterwards they claimed they always knew such things were natural:

On May 5th, many Chinese locals noticed thousands of frogs on the move. They were seen traveling without fear of traffic as they crossed streets in mass floods.


Many Chinese sensed the migration as a bad omen of a coming natural disaster, but the Chinese government told them that it was just a natural migration for the purpose of propagation. This calmed the people and no one took the omen very seriously.

On Monday, 12th of May, at about 2:45pm, central China region recorded a 7.8-magnitude quake which occured near Wenchuan County, Sichuan province, that killed nearly 10,000 people.


As for the Frogs and their omen, Chinese scientists stated animals have much better sense than human on detecting the natural disasters like this.


Of course it wasn't long before people started oicing suspicions:

As the death toll in China's Sichuan province climbs, the nation’s bloggers have joined together in the search for a scapegoat.

Broadband connections across the country are pulsing with rumours of "earthquake omens" involving toads or butterflies - all allegedly ignored by the authorities. Some even talk of a vast pre-Olympic conspiracy.

One blogger from Shandong province, in eastern China, wrote that more than a month ago, he went to his local earthquake resesarch centre several times to report that his animals had been disturbed and restless.

But, he wrote: "They not only ridiculed me, they accused me of making up stories."

Such overlooked omens include:

The Chutian Metropolis Daily reported that on April 26, 80,000 tonnes of water suddenly drained from a large pond in Enshi, Hubei province. The province shares a border with Chongqing Municipality, which was devastated by the earthquake on Monday.

On May 10, a Sichuan-based newspaper, the West China Metropolis Daily, reported that hundreds of migrating toads descended upon the streets of Mianyang, the second largest city in the province which neighbours Wenchuan County, the epicentre of the earthquake.


In the city of Mianzhu, 60 miles from the epicentre, bloggers pointed to reports just weeks before the earthquake of a mass migration of more than one million butterflies.

But was there really a conspiracy? China has long been in the lead on studying animals as earthquake predictors but the results are variable - did they just want to avoid panic when they weren't sure? Some people suggest it is more than that:

Other bloggers seized upon an as yet unsubstantiated rumour that a Chinese geologist had predicted the earthquake in advance but had been stifled by the authorities, and by fear.

"On the seventh of May, a geologist predicted this [earthquake]," wrote one blogger. "But he didn't dare make it public."

Another blogger from Beijing wrote: “Everyone is talking about the rescue effort but they are not actually joining it.

“So, instead we should turn our thoughts to why [the authorities] didn’t forecast the earthquake and evacuate the people...

“Could it be that it was out of a desire for a peaceful Olympics?”

It does rather seem to be all rumour at the moment, although some blame the Chinese government for that too, as they claim a freer media would have helped fill the information vaccuum. From what I've seen a freer media just leads to weirder and wilder conspiracy theories - which is fine by me: the weirder the better!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Similar frog appearances have taken place in Bakersfield, California for about two weeks [date 5/20/08], and nobody is sure why.

Strange swarms of frogs also appeared before the 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in October of 1989. Also known as the Quake of '89 and the World Series Quake, this was a major earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area of California on October 17, 1989 at 5:04 p.m. Caused by a slip along the San Andreas Fault, the earthquake lasted approximately 15 seconds and measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale (surface-wave magnitude 7.1). The quake killed 67 people throughout northern California, injured 3,757 people and left some 8,000 to 12,000 people homeless.