Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the catastrophic Tangshan earthquake in north China. Other wells throughout the area showed signs of cracking. Before the earthquake, the total population of Tangshan city was approximately 1.2 million, with 2 million within 40 km (25 mi) of the epicenter. Tsunamis and fires have contributed to some of the largest death tolls in earthquakes. Introduction. This would make it the deadliest earthquake in modern times, and the second or third deadliest in recorded history. Workers had to find these impromptu graves, dig up the bodies, and then move and rebury the corpses outside of the city. …was devastated by a giant earthquake. Strange? Though it took time, the entire city was rebuilt and is again home to over 1 million people, earning Tangshan the nickname "Brave City of China.". As mentioned earlier, the official death count from the earthquake was 242,400; however, other sources have cited the death toll to be as high as 655,000 to 779,000 people. No one in this county died from the destruction caused by GTE. Many people drank out of pools or other locations that had become contaminated during the earthquake. Water, even just for drinking, was extremely scarce. Here are the most notable known earthquake events, based on the number of deaths. Before the earthquake, the total population of Tangshan city was approximately 1.2 million, with 2 million within 40 km (25 mi) of the epicenter. The Great Tangshan earthquake is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll (250,000 – 650,000). With so much damage, recovery was not easy. South of Tangshan, where liquefaction was the highest, the tremendous outpouring of sand caused significant damage to crops. Officially, the Chinese government estimated between 240,000 and 250,000 people died in the Tangshan earthquake. Fourteen percent of the sewage pipes were severely damaged. Some food was parachuted in, but the distribution was uneven. Many experts have since suggested that the official loss of life was underestimated, that it is likely that closer to 700,000 people died. Ninety-three percent of residential buildings and 78% of industrial buildings were completely destroyed. CHINA - Tangshan Earthquake of July 28,1976. No casualties or serious damage were reported as of Sunday night after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit Tangshan, Hebei province, at 6:38 am, the city's publicity department said. As the earth began to shake, a few people who were awake had the forethought to dive under a table or other heavy piece of furniture, but most were asleep and did not have time. During the night preceding the earthquake, many people reported seeing strange lights as well as loud sounds. … The main shock struck at 3:42 am. At 3:42 a.m. on July 28, 1976, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the sleeping city of Tangshan, in northeastern China. Corpses were buried quickly, usually close to the residences in which they perished. It is the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. One thousand chickens in Baiguantuan refused to eat and ran around excitedly chirping. It makes the Tangshan shock, which registered between 7.8 and 8.2 on the Richter scale, officially far worse than the 1923 Tokyo earthquake in which … In the city of Tangshan the intensity reached X (extreme). Recognizing that, in the wake of the successful earthquake predictions at Haicheng the previous year, Mao's government touted its ability to predict and then respond to natural disasters. About 470000 residents of the Qinglong County evacuated their homes just before the 1976 M 7.8 Tangshan earthquake (United Nations 1995, Wang 1991, Qian 1989, Qian 1986). The earthquake has had a lasting impact on the industrial city of Tangshan, which was almost grazed to the ground with almost 80 per cent of the buildings declared inhabitable. The Tangshan earthquake is regarded as the deadliest earthquake in the 20th century and one of the most deadliest in recorded history. It is officially estimated that Tangshan Earthquake caused 242,469 people deaths, 175,797 people seriously injured, and 4204 children orphaned. Huge energy generated from the earthquake is equivalent to 400 nuclear bombs exploded in Hiroshima. As Mao lay on his deathbed, the public mourned the death of popular premier Zhou Enlai. Especially for Tangshan, the corresponding numbers are respectively 148,022, 81,630, and 2652. When the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Tangshan, more than 1 million people were sleeping, unaware of the impending disaster. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). In 7,218 households, all members of the family were killed by the earthquake. George Pararas-Carayannis. At least 700,000 more people were injured, and property damage was extensive, reaching even to Beijing. After the emergency care was given, the rebuilding of Tangshan began almost immediately. Along with infrastructure damage, there were devastating amounts of casualties. The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing 21, making 25 April 2015 the deadliest day on … Some scholars believe that the Tangshan earthquake contributed to its downfall. The foundations of bridges gave way, causing the bridges to collapse. The earthquake also took a toll on infrastructure and agriculture. No other earthquake in the 20th century was as catastrophic or claimed as many lives as that which struck the city of Tangshan in Northern China on July 28, 1976. Roads were covered with debris and were riddled with fissures. The Tangshan Fault is a strike-slip fault oriented in a north-northeasterly direction. Jennifer Rosenberg is a historian and writer who specializes in 20th-century history. At 3:42 am on July 28, 1976, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Tangshan, an industrial city of 1 million people in northern China. John P. Rafferty writes about Earth processes and the environment. It is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, https://www.britannica.com/event/Tangshan-earthquake-of-1976. Tangshan earthquake of 1976, also called Great Tangshan Earthquake, earthquake on July 28, 1976, with a magnitude of 7.5, which nearly razed the Chinese coal-mining and industrial city of Tangshan, located about 68 miles (110 km) east of Beijing. There was no such warning for Tangshan. Although science had taken a backseat in the Cultural Revolution since in its inception in 1966, seismology had become a new focus of research in China out of necessity. The entire earthquake lasted approximately 14 to 16 seconds. This has been explained so that the latter figure includes only urban residents in Tangshan, which was practically levelled to the ground. The Tangshan Earthquake also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on July 28, 1976. In one household in the city of Tangshan, a goldfish began jumping wildly in its bowl. Though 80% of the people trapped under rubble were saved, a 7.1 magnitude aftershock that hit on the afternoon of July 28 sealed the fate for many who had been waiting under the rubble for help. At 3:42 a.m. on July 28, 1976, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the sleeping city of Tangshan, in northeastern China. Since few buildings were anchored to bedrock, the shaking and subsequent liquefaction of the soil destabilized and brought down most of the structures throughout the affected area. The Great Tangshan Earthquake also rocked the seat of Chinese Communist Party power in Beijing — both literally and politically. The Tangshan earthquake was the result of the Tangshan Fault rupturing from tectonic forces that originated from the Amurian Plate sliding past the Eurasian Plate. Tangshan's rebirth has coincided with China's opening to the outside world, after the death of Mao only weeks after the earthquake and the rise of Deng Xiaoping a … The Mandate of Heaven is a long-established Han tradition that attributes unusual or freakish occurrences in the natural world such as comets, droughts, locusts, and earthquakes to a sign that the (divinely chosen) leadership is incompetent or undeserving. As mentioned earlier, the official death count from the earthquake was 242,400; however, other sources have cited the death toll to be as high as 655,000 to 779,000 people. The Tangshan Earthquake, also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on Wednesday, July 28, 1976. As mentioned earlier, the earthquake struck just before 4 am, when many people were asleep and unprepared. The medical centers were destroyed, as were the roads to get there. Strong aftertremors continued for days. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. REVIEW: Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes: The Tangshan Earthquake and the Death of Mao’s China Book by James Palmer by Brian Bethune. As Mao lay on his deathbed, the public mourned the death of popular premier Zhou Enlai. The rebuilding of Tangshan began almost immediately after … The Tangshan earthquake killed 242,000 people according to official figures, though some sources estimate a death toll up to three times higher. Omissions? Indeed. The very large earthquake, striking an area where it was totally unexpected, obliterated the city of Tangshan and killed more than 240,000 people-making it the deadliest earthquake of the 20th century. At 3:42 a.m. on July 28, 1976, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the sleeping city of Tangshan, in northeastern China. On Tuesday, 12 January 2010, an earthquake with a 7.0 magnitude near the town of… If the estimates other than official accounts are anything close to the truth, this earthquake would be among the top three most devastating earthquakes ever recorded. In August 1976, Chinese leader Mao Zedong (1893–1976) was dying and his Cultural Revolution was eroding in power. Jan 9, 2012 This later caused health problems, especially after it rained and the bodies were again exposed. The death toll, thought to be one of the largest in recorded history, was officially reported as 242,000 persons, but it may have been as high as 655,000. The Tangshan earthquake of 1976, also called Great Tangshan Earthquake, occured on July 28, 1976, with a magnitude of 7.5, which nearly razed the Chinese coal-mining and industrial city of Tangshan, located about 68 miles (110 km) east of Beijing. He serves currently as the editor of Earth and life sciences, covering climatology, geology, zoology, and other topics that relate to... Map depicting the intensity of shaking experienced during the Tangshan earthquake of July 28, 1976. The lights were seen in a multitude of hues. The buildings in Tangshan were not built to withstand such a large earthquake. Tangshan earthquake. The number of deaths caused by the incident, according to official statistics accurate digital for 242419 people, affected the statistics on the number of victims included living in Tangshan city of Japanese, American and other countries live in Tangshan city population. In a village outside of Tangshan, well water reportedly rose and fell three times the day before the earthquake. It was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal earthquake. They set up medical areas where emergency procedures were conducted with the minimum of supplies. Location: Haiti | Death Toll: 316,000. A History of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, The Great Kanto Earthquake in Japan, 1923, Overview of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, The Science Behind the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, 1900 Galveston Hurricane: History, Damage, Impact, The Sumatra Earthquake of December 26, 2004, The 8 Most Powerful Earthquakes Ever Recorded, Temporal Change in Coda Q before the Tangshan Earthquake of 1976 and the Haicheng Earthquake of 1975, Medical Support in the Tangshan Earthquake: A Review of the Management of Mass Casualties and Certain Major Injuries, The Distribution of Earthquake Damage to Underground Facilities During the 1976 Tang-Shan Earthquake, Pain of Disasters: The Educational Cost of Exogenous Shocks Evidence from Tangshan Earthquake in 1976, B.A., History, University of California at Davis. An impending earthquake seen in a multitude of hues, Deyang, Guangyuan, and Chengdu the! From under the rubble, they were lain on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get stories. 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