At 3:42 a.m. on July 28, 1976, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the sleeping city of Tangshan, in northeastern China. The very large earthquake, striking an area where it was totally unexpected, obliterated the city of Tangshan and killed over 240,000 people
The Yan Shan fold-fault zone runs in an east-west direction and lies north of the Tangshan region; to the south, there are several sub parallel northeast-trending fault zones; the Shanxi fault depression structural belt, the Tangshan Piedmont fault zone, the Cangdong fault zone, and the Tangcheng-Jiang fault zone. The Tangshan region is at the junction of the Yan Shan fold-fault zone and the Cangdong fault zone and damage too homes and shops.
After the earthquake hit, 242,419 people lay dead or dying, along with another 164,581 people who were severely injured. In 7,218 households, all members of the family were killed by the earthquake.
Once the quake was over, the people who could, scrambled out into the open, only to see the entire city leveled. After an initial period of shock, the survivors began to dig through debris to answer the muffled calls for help as well as find loved ones still under rubble. As injured people were saved from under the rubble, they were lain on the side of the road. Many of the medical personnel were also trapped under debris or killed by the earthquake. The medical centers were destroyed as well as the roads to get there.
This city of one million, about 68 miles (110 kilometers) east of Beijing, was nearly decimated when a magnitude 7.8 quake shook it awake in 1976. A major aftershock followed 15 hours When the dust settled, a staggering 240,000 people had been killed, and at least 500,000 more were injured—the largest earthquake death toll in 400 years.