//
you're reading...
Daily History

July 28 1976 Worst modern earthquake hits Tangshan, China


On July 28th 1976, at 3:42 a.m., an earthquake measuring between 7.8 and 8.2 magnitude on the Richter scale flattened Tangshan, a Chinese industrial city with a population of about one million people. As almost everyone was asleep in their beds, instead of outside in the relative safety of the streets, the quake was especially costly in terms of human life.

An estimated 242,000 people in Tangshan and surrounding areas were killed, making the earthquake one of the deadliest in recorded history, surpassed only by the 300,000 who died in the Calcutta earthquake in 1737, and the 830,000 thought to have perished in China‘s Shaanxi province in 1556.

Caught between the Indian and Pacific plates, China has been a very active location for earthquakes throughout history. Earthquakes have also played a significant part in China’s culture and science, and the Chinese were the first to develop functioning seismometers. The area of northern China hit by the Tangshan earthquake is particularly prone to the westward movement of the Pacific plate.

In the days preceding the earthquake, people began to notice strange phenomena in and around Tangshan. Well-water levels rose and fell. Rats were seen running in panicked packs in broad daylight. Chickens refused to eat. During the evening of July 27 and the early morning hours of July 28, people reported flashes of coloured light and roaring fireballs.

Still, at 3:42 a.m. most people were sleeping quietly when the earthquake struck. It lasted for 23 seconds and levelled 90 percent of Tangshan’s buildings. At least a quarter-of-a-million people were killed and 160,000 others injured. The earthquake came during the heat of midsummer, and many stunned survivors crawled out of their ruined houses naked, covered only in dust and blood. The earthquake started fires and ignited explosives and poisonous gases in Tangshan’s factories. Water and electricity were cut off, and rail and road access to the city was destroyed.

The Chinese government was ill-prepared for a disaster of this scale. The day following the quake, helicopters and planes began dropping food and medicine into the city. Some 100,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army were ordered to Tangshan, and many had to march on foot from Jinzhou, a distance of more than 180 miles.

About 30,000 medical personnel were called in, along with 30,000 construction workers. The Chinese government, boasting self-sufficiency, refused all offers of foreign relief aid. In the crucial first week after the crisis, many died from lack of medical care. Troops and relief workers lacked the kind of heavy rescue training necessary to efficiently pull survivors from the rubble. Looting was also epidemic. More than 160,000 families were left homeless, and more than 4,000 children were orphaned.

Tangshan was eventually rebuilt with adequate earthquake precautions. Today, nearly two million people live there. There is speculation that the death toll from the 1976 quake was much higher than the official Chinese government figure of 242,000. Some Chinese sources have spoken privately of more than 500,000 deaths.

This Day In History

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

5 thoughts on “July 28 1976 Worst modern earthquake hits Tangshan, China

  1. Remember this very well … terrible !!! But I don’t any of us recall this. It seams to be forgotten … thanks for reminding me. Sorry, for not being around. Just returned from my 28 days trip in US and Canada !!!

    Posted by viveka | July 28, 2012, 21:27
    • Hope you enjoyed your holiday 🙂

      I actually lived in Tangshan for 2 months in 2010, so was very aware of it.

      Posted by Craig Hill | July 28, 2012, 22:11
      • Had a fantastic holiday … but too hot in Chicago .. not use to the heat and the sun was glued to my back all the way back home. Want a good rain now. How interesting that you have lived in China – now I understand your passion.

        Posted by viveka | July 28, 2012, 22:34
  2. Reblogged this on China Daily Mail.

    Posted by Craig Hill | July 29, 2012, 01:26
  3. thank you Craig for keeping me up on all significant events.

    Posted by GrooveCentral LA | July 29, 2012, 01:44

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 14,941 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

According to Chinese and US claims, China has a high-orbit, hypersonic missile that can hit a target within 24 miles. And, that’s why China is the new boss of the world and everyone else should hate America. The end. But, that’s not the end in the mind of Taiwan or the US Pentagon. This week, […]

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China is upgrading its nuclear missile-equipped submarines to make them harder for rival powers such as the US to detect, reports suggest. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has redesigned its type 094 submarines to make them quieter, The South China Morning Post reports. Defence experts believe the Chinese 094 submarine can carry and launch the […]

Could China’s economy collapse?

Could China’s economy collapse?

For almost half a century, Chinese officials have overseen one of the greatest economic transformations in human history. The country has gone from collectivized farms and famine to world-leading tech companies and gleaming megacities connected by superfast trains. More than 800 million Chinese have been pulled out of poverty as the Communist Party and its leader […]

China’s economic crisis is much bigger than expected – its property market, the largest in the world, is collapsing

China’s economic crisis is much bigger than expected – its property market, the largest in the world, is collapsing

The situation in China is much worse than originally thought.  The largest property market in the world is set to collapse and the ramifications will impact the entire world.  We’ve been discussing China’s economic issues for years.  Recently this was even discussed with Steve Bannon on The War Room. We now have information that the […]

UN must condemn forced organ harvesting in China

UN must condemn forced organ harvesting in China

Doctors, lawyers, and politicians from three continents called on the international community to ensure an end to China’s practice of forced organ harvesting during the first half of the World Summit on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting. Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) further calls upon the participants of the United Nations General Assembly […]

China says its J-31 is superior to F-35, and will be new carrier-borne fighter jet

China says its J-31 is superior to F-35, and will be new carrier-borne fighter jet

Dwnews.com describes the J-31 in its report “曝歼31配新型导弹高清照 被指将终结美军空中优势[图]” as China’s new carrier-borne fighter jet for China’s Type 003 aircraft carrier. The speculation is based on the J-31’s Chief Designer Sun Cong’s recent comment on social media that China will make public its new carrier-borne fighter jet by year end. The report describes the J-31 as […]

The reason for the discussion on the Tobin tax in China

The reason for the discussion on the Tobin tax in China

Tax every major financial transaction for social equity by a fraction and allocate the funds to redistribution initiatives. The Tobin tax is the shattered dream of the anti-globalist left, even if its history is slightly more complex. Formulated in 1972 by James Tobin, the 1981 Nobel laureate in economics, it aimed to stabilize the financial […]

Is another Cultural Revolution underway in China?

Is another Cultural Revolution underway in China?

Chinese President Xi Jinping is cracking down on several sectors of Chinese society, including technology and entertainment. This has some Beijing watchers worried a new version of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution is underway. Here’s everything you need to know. What was the Cultural Revolution? It was a brutal 10-year period between 1966-76 (with most […]

Cadence Column: Asia, October 11, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 11, 2021

Biden is creating a special center within CIA for China. Xi Jinping is irate. Biden knows China almost as well as Trump. He met with Chinese officials as Vice President. While Trump played a “good cop” routine on China, Biden is in a better position to be less diplomatic. After all, hating on China does […]

The curious case of Pakistan, China, TTP and BRI

The curious case of Pakistan, China, TTP and BRI

On 1st October Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan broke all hell loose when on the Turkish government-run TV channel, TRT World, he disclosed that the Pakistani government is in secret talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), facilitated by the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistanis were upset for many reasons. They were upset that they were kept in […]

%d bloggers like this: