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唐山大地震 (The Great Tangshan Earthquake)

Posted by: zgarrett | October 27, 2010 | 1 Comment |

This last Tuesday we showed 唐山大地震, a movie about a major earthquake that occurred in 1976 in Tangshan. Tangshan is a city of around 7 million located in Hebei province. At the time of the earthquake only 1.6 million people lived in Tangshan, but due to the poorly constructed buildings and the time that the earthquake struck the casualties reached around 240000, making it the deadliest earthquake in the 20th century and the 2nd deadliest of all time. However, it is believed that the actual death toll may be even higher. It was a common practice in China at the time to make things appear better to the rest of the world than they actually were. Many people now believe that the number given by the Chinese government might not be accurate. Since the population of Tangshan was 1.6 million and most of the city was completely flattened, it is likely that the real death toll reached half a million or more. The earthquake occurred at 3:45 am, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale. 16 hours later an aftershock, also measuring 7.8, increased the death toll.

It was not a very large surprise that an earthquake struck Tangshan, since it had already been predicted by the State Seismological Bureau. A man named Wang Chengmin had even predicted it to happen within the range of July 22nd and August 5th. The surprise was that it struck in the middle of the night and so suddenly. It is believed that the death toll would have been even higher had a man named Wang Chunqing not taken the news as seriously. He decided to prepare his county for the event and was even evacuating some sections of the county.

The movie details the story of a brother and sister who are separated after the earthquake, and their separate journeys through life afterward. The two children are trapped under a large slab, and if the rescue workers lift the slab to save one child it would crush the other. Their mother is forced to choose between them and decides to save her son. The daughter somehow survived and woke up later after her mother had left with the son. She is then adopted by two People’s Liberation Army soldiers. It is a rather sad movie, but the sad moments in the movie make the happy ones even happier.

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Responses -

It’s sad. I’m too weak to bear the sadness now.