quinta-feira, julho 28, 2016
The Tangshan earthquake, also known as the Great Tangshan earthquake, was a natural disaster that occurred on July 28, 1976. It is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll. The epicenter of the earthquake was near Tangshan in Hebei, People's Republic of China, an industrial city with approximately one million inhabitants. The number of deaths initially reported by the Chinese government was 655,000, but this number has since been stated to be around 240,000 to 255,000. Another report indicates that the actual death toll was much higher, at approximately 650,000, and explains that the lower estimates are limited to Tangshan and exclude fatalities in the densely populated surrounding areas.
A further 164,000 people were recorded as being severely injured. The earthquake occurred between a series of political events involving the Communist Party of China, ultimately leading to the expulsion of the ruling Gang of Four by Mao Zedong's chosen successor, Hua Guofeng. In traditional Chinese thought, natural disasters are seen as a precursor of dynastic change.
The earthquake hit in the early morning and lasted 14 to 16 seconds. Chinese government official sources state a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter magnitude scale, though some sources listed it as high as 8.2. It was followed by a major 7.1 magnitude aftershock some 16 hours later, increasing the death toll to over 255,000. The earthquake was generated by the 25-mile-long Tangshan Fault, which runs near the city and ruptured due to tectonic forces caused by the Amurian Plate sliding past the Eurasian Plate.
Until fairly recently, China's political environment has made it difficult to properly gauge the extent of natural disasters. Successive governments have placed more importance on the appearance of harmony rather than accurate information on damages. The Tangshan Earthquake came at a rather politically sensitive time during the late stages of the Cultural Revolution, making accurate statistics especially difficult to find. The Tangshan earthquake killed 242,000 people according to official figures, though some sources estimate a death toll up to three times higher. This would make it the deadliest earthquake in modern times, and the second or third deadliest in recorded history. It is worth noting that the population of Tangshan at the time the quake struck was estimated to be around 1.6 million and that most of Tangshan's city proper was flattened.
Many experts believe the Chinese government has never released an accurate death toll for the disaster. The death toll figure of 242,419 came from the Chinese Seismological Service in 1988, while some sources have estimated the death toll to be at 650,000. Others range as high as 700,000. The initial estimates of 655,000 dead and 779,000 injured were released by Hebei Revolutionary Committee.