onsdag 3. november 2021


Nothing better attests to the sublime power of nature than an earthquake. In the mere blink of an eye, and with minimal warning, the earth unleashes incomparable forces. A civilization's best-laid foundations can be leveled in a heartbeat. Buildings often come crashing down, crushing people and destroying cultural heritage, in the tumble of stones and debris. For example, the Kashmir earthquake of October 2005 measured 7.6 on the Richter scale. It destroyed more than 30,000 structures and killed roughly 79,000 people (via Britannica). And in China, the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 rendered 5 million people homeless almost instantaneously, with a jolt measuring 7.9.

Other devastating seismic shakes (sometimes coupled with tsunamis) have taken place in Haiti, Peru, Japan, and the Indian Ocean basin in recent years. Because these natural disasters prove so hard to predict, when they hit highly populated areas, they leave an unrivaled path of destruction in their wake. What's more, when the ground starts to rumble and roll, finding a safe space to escape to can prove challenging to say the least.

But when it comes to the deadliest day in human history, one event stands out from the rest — the 16th-century tremor that wreaked havoc on the "Cradle of Chinese Civilization" in the provinces of Shaanxi and Shanxi. This tremor created a domino effect of natural disasters that would wound the very heart and soul of Imperial China. Here's what you need to know about this catastrophic moment in human history and its shocking aftermath.