Wedding Pictures in an Earthquake


Another friend of mine, John Chaffee, who is a professor of Chinese Studies sent the following series of pictures that were sent to him by a Taiwanese friend. The friend was taking pictures of a young couple at the White Deer Chapel in Pengzhau, Sichuan when the earthquake struck. The photographer was able to keep his wits and capture these very dramatic images.

The Great Earthquake of Sichuan, May 12 2008

It happened when we were taking wedding pictures.

We were taking pictures for a new couple in White Deer Chapel in Pengzhou, Sichuan. Suddenly there was an enormous quake, and the hundred-year old church was wiped out in a split moment.

It is May 12. We were there to take wedding pictures. The session began at two and after only a few pictures were taken, the catastrophe struck. When we saw big chunks of stone falling off the church and the earth was shaking, we realized there was an earthquake. Knowing that there was no place to hide, we lay on our stomach and used hands to protect heads. It is the end of the world, I thought. Not courage, but the seeming loss of hope that, while crawling on the ground, I managed to raise my camera to take these pictures.

It was chokingly dark. all I could hear was the sound of falling buildings.

As the shaking came to an end and the dust began to settle, we all stood up to see what had happened, despondently horrified.

In a split second, the church that only recently celebrated its 100th anniversary became a pile of rubble.

We helped each other to stand up; looking around we could not believe what we saw.

2:41 in the afternoon of May 12. The camera recorded the time. Inset is the church before it fell.

We thought the quake was only limited to this area and tried to call for help.

There was no way that we could secure help and then there were continued aftershocks.

We started to retreat from the rubble. On the way all we saw were despondent scenes; the neighboring villages were severely damaged.

We and the villagers immediately started self-rescuing actions. Fortunately all 33 people taking pictures in the chapel were not hurt.

The fire that evening was the only consolation for the terrified visitors. We thank the hospitality of the kind villagers. Since the roads were all damaged we had to leave the car behind and walked home.

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