Tangshan earthquake 'changed everything'

Updated: 2016-08-01 07:42

By ZHAO XU(China Daily)

Photographer rushes to rescue as part of Army unit, documents unforgettable moments of pain

Tangshan earthquake 'changed everything'

Lu Guilan, a middle-aged woman, is rescued by soldiers after surviving under wreckage for more than 12 days. [Photo by Wang Wenlan/China Daily]

The lives of Lu Guilan and photographer Wang Wenlan mingled for a few minutes on Aug 9, 1976.

For more than 12 days, Lu, a mother in her 40s, had survived under debris with nothing to eat and drinking her own urine along with rainwater that seeped through the cracks of fallen bricks and mortar.

She had become trapped after the deadliest earthquake of the 20th century hit Tangshan, Hebei province, at 3 am on July 28, 1976, killing more than 240,000 and injuring another 16,000.

The moment Lu was carried out by rescuers, eyes shut and limbs stretched out, was captured by Wang, then a 23-year-old Army photographer.

"The long exposure has given the picture a slightly soft focus. I later used strong film developing fluid in order to heighten the image," recalled Wang, who is today vice-chairman of the China Photographers' Association. "The result is stark immediacy accentuated by a raw sense of history."

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