inside thoughts on China and beyond

Photo Story – Sichuan Earthquake

First pictures taken shortly after the earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan, China in 2008, May 12, killing over 80,000 people died and destroying many towns, schools and houses. I returned one year later with a group of international students from the Chengdu International School (CDIS) helping with a Habitat For Humanity service project in the earthquake area in 2009. Even after one year, people were still living in tents or temporary housing and busy building new homes.


On May 12, 2008, the 8.0 strong earthquake hid Sichuan. 80,000 people died and many towns, school and houses were destroyed. During Chinese new year, all Chinese hang red doorpost signs around the door, hoping to chase of evil spirit and wishing for luck. It didn’t help this year.

By the time we arrived, the next day, after shocks appeared irregularly but far too often and strong. People often did not want to leave their ruined homes out of fear that the few remaining valuables might get stolen.

It was surreal to see how some buildings remained standing among the rubble. It was later revealed that many of the destroyed buildings and schools were not build according to the standards. Most government buildings remained standing.

Chinese relief workers and tents arrived after some days and were, considering the circumstances, quick, well organized and hard working.

Victims receiving medicine. Shortly after taking this picture, the driver closed the windows out of fear for the people: they kept on pulling and pressing for more supplies.

Father and son sitting in their makeshift home, in front of their former farmhouse.

Many centuries old temples were destroyed, like this small temple near Mianzhu.

Town people discussing how to best distribute the supplies we brought.

Temporary villages were put up, providing 2 rooms per family.

A villager walking to the communal toilet.

People that somehow didn’t qualify for the prefab homes continued to live in their makeshift, plastic shelters.

Students of the Chengdu International School (CDIS) helping to rebuild farm houses, a project coordinated by Habitat for Humanity.

Villagers worked together under the supervision of the village chief, helping each other to rebuild their homes.


More photo impressions on this topic can be viewed on my photo site in the folder: sichuan-earthquake.
Copyright © Steven Dorgelo Photography

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