When Sichuan shook

Updated: 2012-06-19 07:49

By Mei Jia (China Daily)

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When Sichuan shook

Left: Beichuan county student Chen Jian shows his will to beat death, while buried under a concrete slab. Right: Sichuan province's Beichuan county was one of the most severely affected areas of the quake zone and was razed to the ground. Photos Provided to China Daily

Two photo albums about the 2008 earthquake explore the disaster and its aftermath, including the recovery. Mei Jia reports in Beijing.

When Sichuan shook

Two photo albums take a panoramic view of one of the world's worst natural disasters in the 21st century so far. The books, When the Earth Shook: The Wenchuan Earthquake and The Rebirth of Our Land: Creating a More Beautiful Sichuan, were published in English by Sichuan-based Xinhua Winshare Publishing and Media Co Ltd and the US' McGraw-Hill Education Group.

"The story of the disaster and the human spirit struggling against it, though a very important one, is not well known in the United States and not well known outside China," says the books' US publisher Philip Ruppel, president of McGraw-Hill Professional.

"It's a story we have to tell, for it offers a shining example of the enduring nature of the human spirit. Also, it's a story that touched me personally, for I experienced the same when the Sept 11 attacks happened. I was right there in New York."

He believes the Wenchuan earthquake, Sept 11 and Japan's 2011 earthquake are the three most devastating disasters in the recent decade.

At 2:28 pm on May 12, 2008, Sichuan province's Wenchuan county was struck by an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale. It's said to be the country's deadliest earthquake since 1976.

Beichuan county student Chen Jian failed to escape and was buried under a falling slab. While he awaited rescue workers, under the rubble, he held out his arm, while his face was mired with mud. His eyes showed the will to beat death. Chen was rescued hours later but died from severe injuries.

This struggle between life and death was captured, together with more than 200 photos taken by professional photographers and reporters on the scene, and is presented in full-color in When the Earth Shook, giving an idea of the scope of the disaster and its aftermath. The book also contains epic rescue and reconstruction efforts.

Director of the General Administration of Press and Publication Liu Binjie calls the book a "powerful and authoritative record" of the disaster.

"It marks history for future generations to examine and to learn," Liu says.

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