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In the early afternoon of 12 May 2008, there was a Richter scale force 7.9 earthquake in Sichuan province, southwest China. The only major paediatric surgical centre near the epicentre was the West China Hospital, Sichuan University. Workers there have described their experiences (Bo Xiang and colleagues. Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2009;44:2273–7).
Between 12 and 31 May, a total of 213 children, most of them of school age, were seen and 119 were admitted. The rest were discharged. Of the children admitted, 61 were girls, 26 were of preschool age and 93 were schoolchildren. Only 10 were admitted in the first 24 h after the earthquake, 41 at between 24 and 72 h and 68 later than 72 …