China Underground > Magazine > China Magazine > 24 Rare Images of 1976 Great Tangshan Earthquake

24 Rare Images of 1976 Great Tangshan Earthquake

The 1976 Tangshan Catastrophe, China’s Deadliest Natural Disaster

The Tangshan earthquake of 1976 is one of the deadliest earthquakes in recorded history. Occurring in the early hours of July 28, 1976, at 3:42 am, this catastrophic event struck the industrial city of Tangshan, located in northeastern Hebei province, China. Measured at a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale, although officially reported as 7.5, the earthquake’s immense force was concentrated in a highly populated area known for its significant industrial and mining activities.

The devastation was profound and swift, with the main tremor lasting only about 23 seconds. In less than half a minute, Tangshan, once a thriving industrial hub, was almost completely destroyed. The infrastructure was severely damaged, and the city’s landscape was dramatically altered, requiring a massive reconstruction effort in the subsequent years.

Medical personnel. The Chinese government refused to accept international aid from the United Nations, and insisted on self-reliance.

The death toll from the Tangshan earthquake is estimated to range from 250,000 to 650,000, making it the deadliest earthquake of the 20th century. The vast difference in the estimated fatalities reflects the difficulties in accounting for the dead in the chaos and destruction that followed the earthquake.

The disaster not only highlighted the vulnerabilities associated with industrial cities but also led to significant changes in how China addressed disaster response and preparedness. The rebuilding of Tangshan included improved construction standards and the implementation of new policies designed to manage both the immediate and long-term consequences of such catastrophic events.

Today the city is the fourth most polluted city in China. The earthquake was depicted in the 2010 movie Aftershock.

Pictures of of 1976 Great Tangshan Earthquake

The high loss of life can be attributed to the time it struck and how suddenly it struck, as well as to the quality and nature of building construction in China.
The earthquake devastated the city over an area of roughly 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) by 8 kilometres (5.0 mi).
Many of the people who survived the initial earthquake were trapped under collapsed buildings.
Rescue workers successfully rescued a man.
Ruins after the earthquake.
Shanghai sent 56 medical teams to Tangshan, in addition to the People’s Liberation Army who were assisting while also trying to fix their tarnished image of Red Guard suppressors.
Doctors, nurses and Navy rushed to the scene to rescue the survivors and the injured.
Survivors were rescued and transferred to safe places
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers came to the rescue.
Distorted railway lines after the earthquake
Cracks on the ground.
A bridge damaged by the quake.
Tangshan, August 4, 1976. Hua Guofeng, Mao’s chosen successor, along with Vice-Premier Chen Yonggui, made a personal visit to Tangshan to survey the damage and was photographed in the tasks of cleaning up and comforting the survivors. Hua showed concern, solidifying his status as China’s leader.
The earthquake came in one of the most dramatic years in the history of the People’s Republic.
The earthquake was preceded by the death of popular premier Zhou Enlai in earlier months and followed by the death of Mao Zedong in September. Jiang Qing, the forth wife of Mao Zedong, major political figure during the Cultural Revolution and member of the radical political alliance known as “Gang of Four”, was widely quoted as saying “There were merely several hundred thousand deaths. So what? Denouncing Deng Xiaoping concerns 800 million people.”
Relatives and friends mourn the victims.
After the quake, many people became disabled.
The quake was one of the worst in recorded history, killing half a million people.


Topic: Great Tangshan Earthquake,largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll,largest earthquake in China,largest earthquake by death toll,natural disaster,larget natural disaster in China,greatest natural disaster in world history

Post Author


Between reckless ally and old rival, China in a bind over North Korea

Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes


Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.