The sorrow and grief in the aftermath of the disaster seems to have enlivened a courageous spirit that brought communities
Wreckage of a car that was hit by a boulder inside the earthquake memorial museum in Wenchuan
At exactly 2:28:01pm on May 12, 2008, a sudden force shook the earth with such devastating force that it left little room for the people of Yingxiu town to make sense of the terror.
The small town in Wenchuan County, in China’s Southwest province of Sichuan was right at the heart of an 8.0 magnitude earthquake that left at least 87,000 people dead or missing.
Huge boulders hurtled down the mountain slopes, cars got trapped along a busy highway and chaos stirred the quiet neighbourhood, displacing more than 4.8 million people.
A walk through the memorial hall located at the hillside of Yuziki village brings to light the devastation, captured in real-time footage, photos and simulated film.
Aircraft parts and flashing images on a giant screen inside the museum reveal faces of a crew whose helicopter crashed in the mountains during a rescue operation to find trapped survivors
A policeman rushing to help was crushed inside a small van, and the mangled wreck of a van in which he was travelling lies still inside the museum.
In a dimly-lit room, an elevated platform recreates the terror through sound and light effects panic while the platform sways and jolts and a 3D video takes the tourists back in time.
The Wenchuan earthquake was the most destructive and humanitarian relief challenge since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Several strong aftershocks, landslides, mud-rock flows, quake lakes and inclement weather further complicated rescue and relief efforts.
At least ten other provinces, including neighbouring Gansu and Shaanxi suffered damage resulting from the earthquake and the tremors were also felt in Beijing and Shanghai.
Official records indicate that the earthquake created 104 dangerous barrier lakes, damaged 1996 reservoirs and created more than 6,000 geological disaster spots.
Estimates show that rebuilding Wenchuan cost about 884 billion yuan ($135b), which included putting up new homes and major transport lines around the affected areas.
Courage under ordeal
The sorrow and grief in the aftermath of the disaster seems to have enlivened a courageous spirit that brought communities together to rebuild a shaken dream.
Images of long lines of volunteers holding hands from stretching from up the mountains to the lowlands below are tale of an enduring spirit of sacrifice.
The major highway that was destroyed was rebuilt within months and outpouring of support from across China and all over the world was humbling.
Down below the hillsides of Yingxiu lies neighbouring Shuimo Town, a community of minorities that also suffered significant damage during the earthquake.
Although none of its residents was killed and about 30% of the homes were affected by the earthquake, the disaster somehow drew attention to their living standards.
Rows of neat homes surrounded by green have given new face to the community. Each of the families has a decent home, access to water and electricity and spacious gardens.
Not only have the urban centres been reconstructed but also the settlements have been modernized to create a harmonious living environment.
At least 200 similar eco-villages have been built around Wenchuan as part of the government’s plan to fight poverty and provide decent living for all Chinese.
The earthquake site and reconstruction efforts around Wenchuan County have become an attraction for tourists visitng Sichuan from across China and all over the world.