CHINA 43 years on: Tangshan reborn after earthquake


43 years on: Tangshan reborn after earthquake

By Bao Han and Zhan Huilan | People's Daily app

20:07, July 28, 2019


A man mourns the victims at the memorial wall for the Tangshan Earthquake. (Photo: Xinhua)

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Tangshan, North China’s Hebei Province, on July 28, 1976, and claimed the lives of more than 240,000 people.

More than 164,000 people were seriously injured, 3,817 people became paraplegic, and 4,204 children became orphans. The catastrophic quake also destroyed 97 percent of buildings and 55 percent of production equipment, causing a direct economic loss of 3 billion yuan.


The Tangshan earthquake destroyed more than 97 percent of buildings. (Photo: Xinhua)

Although it’s hard to ease the pain from the quake, many people choose to bravely struggle to help in the aftermath of the disaster.


People clean up debris after the quake. (Photo: Xinhua)

After the pain

Liu Jiang, a miner who lost his father in the earthquake, returned to work on August 2 after burying his parent, while Feng Lindi, a steel worker who lost his two-year-old son, returned to work at once in that morning after the painful quake.

Liu said, “I feel uncomfortable staying at home. The mine needs us.”

Liu actively participated in the mine drainage team, carrying heavy pumps with along with other workers.

“It was hard to walk, but I felt energetic!”


This photo shows Tangshan steel workers celebrating the repair of a furnace after the earthquake. (Photo: Xinhua)

Feng never forgets the moment when Tangshan repaired its first furnace after the earthquake.

“Some people said Tangshan disappeared from the earth, but we wanted to prove that Tangshan is still here,” said Feng.

Children grow stronger

Dong Huijuan, who lost her parents and brother in the quake, is now a professor at Tangshan Normal University and China’s first disaster psychology doctor.

After the quake, a total of 4,204 children lost their families. The children received   countless offers of social care.

Among these children, the eldest was 16 years old, while the youngest was only 2 months. Dong was one of them.


Dong Huijuan in a photo with the sculpture at the entrance of the Tangshan Earthquake Memorial Park. (Photo: Xinhua)

Dong had hidden her pain until she found that the best way to ease it it was to help those despairing children who lost their families in the Wenchuan earthquake.

“I’m also an earthquake orphan,” she said to her little patients.

Just like Dong, many Tangshan children are now working in helping positions, bringing their strength to the motherland. Some joined the army and devoted themselves to rescue and relief work.

“Those who have fought to get through the deepest suffering of life will know how to recover their spiritual strength and rebuild their homes,” said Dong.

Grateful for life

Zhang Xiangqing, also an earthquake orphan, still remembers that day.

“At that time, the People’s Liberation Army built houses and distributed relief supplies for us every day from dawn to dark. They gave everything to us,” Zhang recalled.


(File photo)

Zhang, a successful entrepreneur now, resolutely donated 100 million yuan for the Wenchuan earthquake recovery, which is not  a small accomplishment even for an entrepreneur.

“We will rebuild their homes! Build the best homes that will not afraid of any earthquakes!” said Zhang, his words touching many.


Tangshan earthquake orphans from all over Hebei Province donated money for the Wenchuan earthquake on May 20, 2008. On that day, more than 200 Tangshan earthquake orphans gathered in the Tangshan Earthquake Monument Square to offer donations for the orphans of the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan. (Photo: Xinhua)

Disasters tightly linked the hearts of the Tangshan and Wenchuan people. Tangshan raised nearly 400 million yuan for the Wenchuan earthquake rescue and relief, ranking first among all prefecture-level cities nationwide.

“It’s the people of the whole country and PLA who saved me in the earthquake,” Zhang always says. “Tangshan people who stood up from the ruins should have a grateful heart.”

Going through catastrophe, the city witnesses not only joys and sorrows, but also incomparable strength.

Tangshan has carried out reconstruction since 1976.


Tangshan in 1986 (Photo: Xinhua)

Ten years on, Tangshan completed initial steps of reconstruction.


Tangshan in 1996 (Photo: Xinhua)

20 years on, Tangshan gradually became prosperous.


Tangshan after 30 years’ reconstruction (Photo: Xinhua)

30 years on, Tangshan became more beautiful and more like a big city.


Tangshan held the 32th World Horticultural Exposition in 2016. (Photo: Xinhua)

40 years on, Tangshan successfully held the World Horticultural Exposition.


An aerial view of Tangshan taken on May 29, 2019 (Photo: Xinhua)

Participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, today’s Tangshan is building a window for economic cooperation in Northeastern Asia. With a heavy history but bright prospects, a brand new city is rising on the land of China.

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