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Remembering the city that died in one night

(China Daily)    08:41, July 28, 2016

Remembering the city that died in one night

A man mourns his mother, a victim of the earthquake, at a memorial park in Tangshan, Hebei province. Tangshan lies in ruins after the devastating earthquake in 1976. An earthquake monument stands at the edge of a pond in the rebuilt Tangshan. PHOTOS BY WANG ZHUANGFEI / CHINA DAILY AND XINHUA FILE PHOTO

Editor's note:Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Tangshan earthquake, which claimed more than 240,000 lives. China Daily talks with two people, brought together by the injuries they suffered, who have spent four decades rebuilding their lives.

Forty years ago, when Gao Zhihong had just graduated from college, the then-25-year-old returned home to visit her family. The joy of reunion didn't last long: 10 hours after Gao's arrival in Tangshan, Hebei province, the city was hit by a massive earthquake that caused more than 240,000 deaths.

That night, Gao's life was turned upside down.

She arrived in her hometown at about 6 pm on July 27. "My whole family was so happy to see me. My sister and I planned to go shopping the next day," the 65-year-old recalled, her memories not dimmed by the intervening years.

The sisters' shopping expedition never materialized. At about 4 am, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Tangshan. Gao's father and sister were killed, while she and her mother were left paralyzed. Her two younger brothers were luckier, escaping with superficial injuries.

More than 240,000 of the city's 1 million urban inhabitants died in the quake, regarded as one of the most destructive in history. In addition, 160,000 people were seriously injured — more than 3,800 were paralyzed — and more than 4,200 children were orphaned.

"My mother shook me awake when the quake occurred. My father ran toward the door, and I saw a concrete beam fall from the roof and hit him. I got up and ran to him, but I was hit by another falling beam. I was wedged between two of the beams, unable to move. I saw my father die," she recalled, her voice choked with emotion.

"It was so dark. I heard my brothers shouting my name, but I couldn't move and I was too weak and in too much pain to respond."

Gao was buried under the debris of the family home for about 10 hours until one of her brothers managed to free her.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Kong Defang,Bianji)

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