A NIGHT THE EARTH DIDN'T SLEEP Strange things were happening in the countryside of northeast Hebei. For three days the water in the village wells rose and fell, rose and fell. Farmers not
iced that the well walls had deep cracks in them. A smelly gas came out of the cracks. In the farmyards, the chickens and even the pigs were too nervous to eat. Mice ran out of the fields looking for places to hide. Fish jumped out of their bowls and ponds. At about 3:00 am on July 28, 1976, some people saw bright lights in the sky. The sound of planes could be heard outside the city of Tangshan even when no planes were in the sky. In the city, the water pipes in some buildings cracked and burst. But the one million people of the city, who thought little of these events, were asleep as usual that night. At 3:42 am everything began to shake. It seemed as if the world was at an end! Eleven kilometres directly below the city one of the greatest earthquakes of the 20th century had begun. It was felt in Beijing, which is more than two hundred kilometres away. One-third of the nation felt it. A huge crack that was eight kilometres long and thirty metres wide cut across houses, roads and canals. Steam burst from holes in the ground. Hard hills of rock became rivers of dirt. In fifteen terrible seconds a large city lay in ruins. The suffering of the people was extreme. Two-thirds of them died or were injured during the earthquake. Thousands of families were killed and many children were left without parents. The number of people who were killed or seriously injured reached more than 400,000. But how could the survivors believe it was natural? Everywhere they looked nearly everything was destroyed. All of the city's hospitals, 75% of its factories and buildings and 90% of its homes were gone. Bricks covered the ground like red autumn leaves. No wind, however, could blow them away. Two dams fell and most of the bridges also fell or were not safe for travelling. The railway tracks were now useless pieces of steel. Tens of thousands of cows would never give milk again. Half a million pigs and millions of chickens were dead. Sand now filled the wells instead of water. People were shocked. Then, later that afternoon, another big quake which was almost as strong as the first one shook Tangshan. Some of the rescue workers and doctors were trapped under the ruins. More buildings fell down. Water, food, and electricity were hard to get. People begab to wonder how long the disaster would last. All hope was not lost. Soon after the quakes, the army sent 150,000 soldiers to Tangshan to help the rescue workers. Hundreds of thousands of people were helped. The army organized teams to dig out those who were trapped and to bury the dead. To the north of the city, most of the 10,000 miners were rescued from the coal mines there. Workers built shelters for survivors whose homes had been destroyed. Fresh water was taken to the city by train, truck and plane. Slowly, the city began to breathe again.
河北省东北部的农村不断有些怪事发生：三天来，村子里的井水升升降降，起起伏伏。农夫注意到，水井 的井壁上有深深的裂缝，裂缝里冒出臭气。农家大院里的鸡，甚至猪都紧张得不想吃食。老鼠从田地里跑 出来找地方藏身。鱼缸和池塘里的鱼会往外跳。在 1976 年 7 月 28 日凌晨 3 点左右，有些人看到天上有一 道道明亮的光。即使填空没有飞机，在唐山城外也可以听到飞机声。在市内，有些建筑物的水管爆裂开来。 但是，唐山市的一百万居民几乎都没有把这些情况当一回事，当天晚上照常睡着了。 在凌晨 3 点 42 分，一切都开始摇晃起来。世界似乎到了末日！二十世纪最大的地震之一就在唐山市正 下方 11 公里处发生了。200 公里以外的北京市都感到了地震。全国三分之一的地方都有震感。一条 8 公里 的长，30 米宽的巨大裂缝横穿房舍、马路和渠道。地上一些洞穴冒出了蒸汽。石头山变成了泥沙河，在可 怕的十五秒钟内，一座大城市就沉沦在一片废墟之中。人们遭受的灾难极为严重。2/3 的人在地震中死亡或 受伤。成千上万个家庭遇难，许多孩子变成了孤儿。死伤的人数到达了 40 多万。
幸存的人们又怎么能相信这是自然现象呢？人们无论朝哪里看，哪里的一切几乎都被毁了。所有的市 内医院，75%的工厂和建筑物，90%的家园都消失了。残砖就像秋天的红叶覆盖着大地，然而它们是不可能 被风刮走的。两座大坝跨了。多数桥梁不是塌了就是无法完全通行了。铁轨如今变成了一条条废钢。好几 万头牛再也挤不出奶来了。50 万头猪和几百万只鸡全都死了。井里满是沙子，而不是水。人们惊呆了。接 着，在下午的晚些时候，又一次和第一次一样强烈的地震震撼着唐山。有些医生和救援人员被困在废墟下 面。更多的房屋倒塌了。水、电和食物都很难弄到。人们开始纳闷，这场灾难还会持续多久。 不是所有的希望都破灭了。地震后不久，部队派了 15 万名战士到唐山来协助救援人员，数十万人得到 了救助。部分人员组成了小分队，将受困的人们挖出来，将死者掩埋。在唐山市的北边，有一个万名矿工 煤矿，其中多数人得救了。救援人员为那些家园被毁的幸存者盖起了避难所，用火车，卡车，和飞机向市 内运来了水。慢慢地，这座城市又开始出行了生机
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