11 May, 2009Issue 9.3Asia & AustraliaPhoto EssaysThe Arts

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Remembering Sichuan

Amnon Gutman

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One year ago, China’s Sichuan province was rocked by the 19th deadliest earthquake of all time. Less than three months before the country hosted the world in the 2008 Summer Olympics, the “Great Sichuan Earthquake” struck with a Richter magnitude of 8.0 and took the lives of at least 69,000 people.

Just before 2:30 p.m. on 12 May 2008, Wenchuan, the capital of Sichuan, began to shake. The earthquake was so intense that it could be felt in both Beijing and Shanghai—1,500 kilometers and 1,700 kilometers away—where office buildings swayed with the tremor.

Official figures as of 21 July 2008 confirmed:

  • 69,227 dead (68,636 in Sichuan province)
  • 374,176 injured
  • 18,222 missing
  • 4.8 million people homeless (though the number could be as high as 11 million).

The Great Sichuan Earthquake was the deadliest to hit China since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, which killed at least 240,000 people, and the strongest since the 1950 Chayu earthquake, which registered at 8.5 on Richter magnitude scale.

One month later, survivors in Sichuan province started to rebuild their lives with the help of the Chinese army and volunteers, picking up the pieces from their old lives.

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Amnon Gutman is a freelance photographer based in Israel. His recent work has focused on the ongoing conflict in eastern DRC, HIV/AIDS afflicted regions of Africa, and Christian vigilante action in the Philippines. Gutman’s photography has been featured in Newsweek, the Guardian, the Observer, Le Monde, the Boston Globe, Courrier Japan, and the Epoch Times.