The largest natural disaster to hit China in decades has struck in to the Sichuan county of Wenchuan. An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale occurred at 1428 Beijing time, on Monday.
The worst hit area appears to be Beichuan county, 50km from the epicentre, where the BBC reports that 80% of buildings were destroyed and 3,000-5,000 people were killed.
Make no mistake, this is a huge quake – larger than the Kashmir Earthquake that caused so much suffering in 2005 – the tremors were felt as far away as Beijing (960 miles/1,545 km away).
About the response effort BBC’s Quentin Sommerville says “is one of the most open and speedy responses to an emergency he has ever seen from Chinese state media”. However torrential rain and damaged communications links are hindering the rescue efforts.
The Beijing Olympics Blog will not be updated regularly enough to give you the most up-to-date news on the situation, so please see the recommended links below for the best places:
The TIME blog has been updated numerous times already, relating the possible knock-on effects of the disaster. Discussion of the possibly impact on the Three Gorges Dam is one topic discussed already
BBC News already has a couple of fact-filled reports on the situation, and check the main headlines to latest updates
Our thoughts are with those suffering from the impact of this disaster.