As Mao lay on his deathbed, the public mourned the death of popular premier Zhou Enlai. Tangshan was not predicted, and the size of the disaster made the response slow and difficult—a process significantly hindered by Mao's complete rejection of foreign aid. Workers had to find these impromptu graves, dig up the bodies, and then move and rebury the corpses outside of the city. The 7.8 earthquake that hit Tangshan was given an intensity level of XI (out of XII). The Tangshan earthquake killed 242,000 people according to official figures, though some sources estimate a death toll up to three times higher. Officially, the Chinese government estimated between 240,000 and 250,000 people died in the Tangshan earthquake. This later caused health problems, especially after it rained and the bodies were again exposed. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Here are the most notable known earthquake events, based on the number of deaths. At 3:42 a.m. on July 28, 1976, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the sleeping city of Tangshan, in northeastern China. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The main shock caused a 75-mile (120-km) subsurface rupture that extended bilaterally north-northeast and south-southwest of Tangshan; it also caused prominent surface faults to appear in the city. Fourteen percent of the sewage pipes were severely damaged. At 3:42 a.m. on July 28, 1976, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the sleeping city of Tangshan, in northeastern China. 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 … Some observers place the actual toll as high as 700,000. The quake leveled almost every building and flooded the mines. In another village, gas began to spout out the water well on July 12 and then increased on July 25 and 26. There was no such warning for Tangshan. Unfortunately, relief workers accidentally clogged the one remaining road, leaving them and their supplies stuck for hours in the traffic jam. In the succeeding decades, the experiences of Tangshan have been used to improve earthquake predicting capabilities and the provision of medical support in major disasters. …was devastated by a giant earthquake. The medical centers were destroyed, as were the roads to get there. The April 2015 Nepal magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000. After the earthquake hit, 242,419 people lay dead or dying, along with another 164,581 people who were severely injured. 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. It occurred in December 16,… South of Tangshan, where liquefaction was the highest, the tremendous outpouring of sand caused significant damage to crops. It is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. 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 2 a.m. on July 28, shortly before the earthquake struck, the goldfish jumped out of its bowl. In one household in the city of Tangshan, a goldfish began jumping wildly in its bowl. During the night preceding the earthquake, many people reported seeing strange lights as well as loud sounds. Liquefaction, combined with the sudden emergence of surface faults, wrecked roads, rail lines, bridges, dams, wells, and other infrastructure. Before the 1976 earthquake, scientists didn't think Tangshan was susceptible to a large earthquake; thus, the area was zoned an intensity level of VI on the Chinese intensity scale (similar to the Mercalli scale). 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. It is officially estimated that Tangshan Earthquake caused 242,469 people deaths, 175,797 people seriously injured, and 4204 children orphaned. 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. 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. As injured people were saved from under the rubble, they were lain on the side of the road. 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. After the emergency care was given, the rebuilding of Tangshan began almost immediately. It also triggered sand blows throughout the region, which silted wells and irrigation ditches. The earthquake also took a toll on infrastructure and agriculture. Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the catastrophic Tangshan earthquake in north China. Along with infrastructure damage, there were devastating amounts of casualties. On Tuesday, 12 January 2010, an earthquake with a 7.0 magnitude near the town of… REVIEW: Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes: The Tangshan Earthquake and the Death of Mao’s China Book by James Palmer by Brian Bethune. At 3:42 a.m. on July 28, 1976, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the sleeping city of Tangshan, in northeastern China. 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. Loud, roaring noises followed the lights and fireballs. Some scholars believe that the Tangshan earthquake contributed to its downfall. 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. It was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal earthquake. 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. No one in this county died from the destruction caused by GTE. Huge energy generated from the earthquake is equivalent to 400 nuclear bombs exploded in Hiroshima. The main shock struck at 3:42 am. Introduction. The deadliest earthquake in China since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake and the strongest since the 1950 Chayu earthquake. As mentioned earlier, the earthquake struck just before 4 am, when many people were asleep and unprepared. Other wells throughout the area showed signs of cracking. Roads were covered with debris and were riddled with fissures. Strange? 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. Estimates of the number of deaths due to the Tangshan earthquake have varied widely, and generally lack a clear authoritative basis. The Tangshan Earthquake also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on July 28, 1976. 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.". Relief workers eventually got water trucks and others to transport clean drinking water into the affected areas. Corrections? Mice and yellow weasels were seen running around looking for a place to hide. It is the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. In a village outside of Tangshan, well water reportedly rose and fell three times the day before the earthquake. At least 700,000 more people were injured, and property damage was extensive, reaching even to Beijing. As mentioned earlier, the earthquake struck just before 4 am, when many people were asleep and unprepared. 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. Some 242,000 people were officially reported as having been killed, though the death toll may have been higher. Food was a high priority. 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 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. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). 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. They set up medical areas where emergency procedures were conducted with the minimum of supplies. Railroad lines bent. 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. 1920 Haiyuan Earthquake is the third deadliest earthquake with most deaths in the history. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Location: Haiti | Death Toll: 316,000. Eighty percent of the water pumping stations were seriously damaged and the water pipes were damaged throughout the city. 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 … When the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Tangshan, more than 1 million people were sleeping, unaware of the impending disaster. The entire earthquake lasted approximately 14 to 16 seconds. Tangshan earthquake July 28, 1976, claimed an estimated 800,000 lives, registering 8.2 on the Richter Scale, a...Tangshan earthquake registered 7.8.) Also Tianjin City alone suffered about 24 000 casualties.At least 700,000 more p… 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. The Great Tangshan Earthquake also rocked the seat of Chinese Communist Party power in Beijing — both literally and politically. Some food was parachuted in, but the distribution was uneven. This aftershock caused additional damage and casualties and hampered efforts to rescue people already trapped beneath rubble. In August 1976, Chinese leader Mao Zedong (1893–1976) was dying and his Cultural Revolution was eroding in power. The initial death count reported by the Chinese government put the casualties at 655,000, but this number was later reduced to around 240,000 to 255,000. 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). … Survivors were faced with not having water, food, or electricity. As Mao lay on his deathbed, the public mourned the death of popular premier Zhou Enlai. 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.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 earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing 21, making 25 April 2015 the deadliest day on … Additional research has also been focused on anomalous animal behaviors ahead of earthquakes, which have been widely documented. The foundations of bridges gave way, causing the bridges to collapse. 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. Jan 9, 2012 Estimates of the number of deaths due to the Tangshan earthquake have varied widely, and generally lack a clear authoritative basis. The world’s third worst earthquake, in terms of deaths, took place Oct....Tangshan earthquake was not predicted. Tsunamis and fires have contributed to some of the largest death tolls in earthquakes. Workers at the Tangshan airport described the noises as louder than that of an airplane. Many of the medical personnel were also trapped under debris or killed by the earthquake. In 7,218 households, all members of the family were killed by the earthquake. 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. They searched for food and set up temporary shelters. 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. Ninety-three percent of residential buildings and 78% of industrial buildings were completely destroyed. The Great Tangshan earthquake is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll (250,000 – 650,000). Sand blows, which expel wet sand from the ground, result from the increased weight brought on by slumping layers of soil upon layers of waterlogged sand below. George Pararas-Carayannis. Indeed. John P. Rafferty writes about Earth processes and the environment. Strong aftertremors continued for days. Once its owner had returned him to his bowl, the goldfish continued to jump out of its bowl until the earthquake hit. Though scientific earthquake prediction is in its nascent stages, nature often gives some advance warning of an impending earthquake. Tangshan earthquake. One thousand chickens in Baiguantuan refused to eat and ran around excitedly chirping. The rebuilding of Tangshan began almost immediately after … Along with infrastructure damage, there were devastating amounts of casualties. 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. 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. The lights were seen in a multitude of hues. When an earthquake of historic magnitude leveled the industrial city of Tangshan in the summer of 1976, killing more than a half-million people, China was already gripped by widespread social unrest. When an earthquake of historic magnitude leveled the industrial city of Tangshan in the summer of 1976, killing more than a half-million people, China was already gripped by widespread social unrest. With so much damage, recovery was not easy. CHINA - Tangshan Earthquake of July 28,1976. 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. This would make it the deadliest earthquake in modern times, and the second or third deadliest in recorded history. Many experts have since suggested that the official loss of life was underestimated, that it is likely that closer to 700,000 people died. The earthquake was one of the deadliest of the 20th Century. The quake either destroyed or severely damaged more than 85 percent of unreinforced houses, multistory buildings, and other structures in Tangshan. Once the quake was over, the people who could scrambled out into the open, only to see the entire city leveled. Most of the fatalities resulted from the collapse of unreinforced masonry homes where people were sleeping. Water, even just for drinking, was extremely scarce. This has been explained so that the latter figure includes only urban residents in Tangshan, which was practically levelled to the ground. Published by Statista Research Department, Nov 17, 2016 The statistic shows the earthquakes with the highest death toll worldwide from 1900 to 2016. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, https://www.britannica.com/event/Tangshan-earthquake-of-1976. Several other earthquakes struck the city during the late 1970s and…. Many people drank out of pools or other locations that had become contaminated during the earthquake. The buildings in Tangshan were not built to withstand such a large earthquake. Corpses were buried quickly, usually close to the residences in which they perished. In the city of Tangshan the intensity reached X (extreme). 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 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. The Tangshan Fault is a strike-slip fault oriented in a north-northeasterly direction. Some people saw flashes of light; others witnessed fireballs flying across the sky. Jennifer Rosenberg is a historian and writer who specializes in 20th-century history. Approximately 3,650 square miles (9,500 square km) of the surrounding region endured earthquake intensities of VIII (severe) or above on the modified Mercalli scale. Updates? The earthquake occurred along a previously unknown fault, now called the Tangshan Fault, in the Cangdong fault system near that system’s intersection with the Yin Shan–Yan Shan mountain belt. Especially for Tangshan, the corresponding numbers are respectively 148,022, 81,630, and 2652. Most of the buildings that collapsed were in rural areas and did not adhere to building codes. The Tangshan earthquake is regarded as the deadliest earthquake in the 20th century and one of the most deadliest in recorded history. Later that same day, a major aftershock (magnitude 7.1) occurred in the city of Luanxian, some 43 miles (70 km) to the northeast. The prefecture-level divisions of Mianyang, Ngawa, Deyang, Guangyuan, and Chengdu suffered the most loss of lives. The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Tangshan, China on July 28, 1976, killed at least 242,000 people (the official death count). All but one of the roads into Tangshan was impassible. At 3:42 a.m. on July 28, 1976, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the sleeping city of Tangshan, in northeastern China. The shaking, which lasted 14 to 16 seconds, transformed much of the region’s exceptionally deep sandy soil into a fluidlike mass (liquefaction). Omissions? Animals also gave a warning that something was about to happen. … People needed help immediately; survivors could not wait for help to arrive, so they formed groups to dig for others. These were isolated incidents, spread across a city of a million people and a countryside scattered with villages. The Tangshan Earthquake, also known as the Great Tangshan Earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on Wednesday, July 28, 1976. 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