On May 12, 2008 the ground began to shake in Sichuan Province. By the time it stopped, nearly 100,000 people had lost their lives.
Anyone who was in China at the time can say where they were when they heard about it. I was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the time, attending a conference. I was in a meeting with a dozen or so others (all from China), when someone came in and told us there were reports of an earthquake in Sichuan. Obviously we had no idea of the magnitude, but we stopped and prayed.
As the days unfolded, the horror of it all became clear. The numbers were staggering:
- The quake measured 7.9 on the Richter scale.
- 4/5 of the buildings in the affected area were flattened.
- In some cases, entire villages and towns were destroyed.
- 5,300 children died, most of them in collapsed school buildings.
- 375,000 were injured from falling debris.
- 200 relief workers died in landslides.
- 130,000 soldiers and relief workers were deployed.
- The estimated cost of the quake in economic terms was $86 billion.
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the earthquake, the mainland-based site Sixth Tone has published a collection of pictures in a post titled, 100 Photos That Shook China: Memories of the Wenchuan Earthquake.
They are, quite simply, astounding. I encourage you to take the time to view them.
Image credit: Chris, via Flickr