REMEMBERING THE CITY THAT DIED IN ONE NIGHT

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

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 heardmy 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 un­tilo­neof her broth­ers man­aged to free her.

PHOTOS BY WANG ZHUANGFEI / CHINA DAILY AND XINHUA FILE PHOTO

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.

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