40 years ago yesterday, on July 28th, 1976, the Great Tangshan Earthquake demolished an area that millions of people called home. The official death toll for Tangshan is 242,419; that number is disputed. Initially, the Chinese government said that 655,000 people had died, other estimates have also put the number as high 650,000. It was one of the deadliest earthquakes in recorded history, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale.
While you might think that an earthquake of that magnitude would have wiped Tangshan off the face of the earth, the city is still there, in northeastern Hebei province, home to numerous high-rises, shopping malls, factories and over 3 million people.
In the lead up to the anniversary, a poignant photo series has been circulating on the Chinese internet showing Tangshan’s transformation over the past four decades, with black and white images of the devastated city in 1976 combined with pictures of how Tangshan looks now in vivid color, rising up from the rubble.
For many netizens on Weibo, a historic national tragedy has now become a powerful point of pride and a symbol of China’s development and ascension over the past 40 years.
By Katie Ngai
[Images via NetEase]