China's Worst Modern Quake

Most of Tangshan's 1 million inhabitants lay sleeping in the early morning hours of July 28,1976. Without warning, at 3:43 a,m., a massive earthquake ripped through the densely populated industrial center and left it a ruin of crumbled buildings, fallen smokestacks and heaps of rubble. Measuring 7,8 on the Richter scale, the quake leveled an area of 20 sq. mi., causing death and destruction without precedent in recorded history: as many as 750,000 are estimated to have died in the catastrophe.

Departing from their usual silence on such matters, Chinese officials recently disclosed some new details about the Tangshan disaster to...