[This post will be updated throughout the day]
Update: Coal mines, chemical plants and oil and gas wells have been ordered shut after the earthquake, according to Bloomberg:
Companies in affected areas must evacuate workers and can’t resume output until conditions allow for safe operations, the Beijing-based State Administration of Work Safety said on its Web site today. Sichuan province, where yesterday’s 7.9 magnitude temblor struck, holds about 40 percent of China’s natural gas reserves and accounted for 22 percent of its output in 2006.
The earthquake damaged power plants and transmission lines and may cut the nation’s energy demand. The State Electricity Regulatory Commission, China’s power industry regulator, today ordered “24-hour” monitoring at generation and distribution networks and asked utilities to report accidents immediately.
See various maps of the quake from the US Geological Society.
Original post (May 13, 9:30 am PST):
The official death toll from the Wenchuan earthquake is now 12,000 and likely to rise. A heavy rain hampered the efforts to rescue survivors. From the New York Times:
By late evening Tuesday, the official death toll had exceeded 12,000, according to state media, quoting provincial officials, making it China’s deadliest natural disaster in three decades. Officials said they thought the death toll could still climb dramatically higher as workers broke through to the affected areas and the full scope of the disaster became clearer.
The authorities said that more than 18,000 people were still unaccounted for in Mianyang County in Sichuan Province and another 2,300 were missing in the collapse of a school and two factories in the nearby town of Shifang.
As a steady rain fell throughout the day, emergency workers struggled to pull survivors and bodies from flattened buildings in the few towns accessible to heavy rescue machinery. Nearly 2,000 of the dead included students and teachers killed when school buildings in the region crumbled.
The NYT articles also includes an interactive map, a slideshow and accompanying articles about the aftermath of the quake.
Business Week and Forbes both look at the economic impact of the devastation. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.8% to 3,560.24 on Tuesday, although firms were suspended trading, which were impacted by the earthquake. Details from BBC News.
More recently, a second earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale has again hit Sichuan province, 24 hours after the Wenchuan quake, from Shanghaiist.