National Geographic : 1922 May
VOL. XLI, No. 5 WASHINGTON MAY, 1922 THAE JEOGlAHnll COPYRIGHT.1922BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTON.D. C. "WHERE THE MOUNTAINS WALKED" An Account of the Recent Earthquake in Kansu Province, China, Which Destroyed 100,000 Lives BY UPTON CLOSE AND ELSIE MCCORMICK With Illustrations from Photographs by the Haycs-Hall Kansu EarthquakeRelief Expedition MOUNTAINS that moved in the night; landslides that eddied like waterfalls, crevasses that swallowed houses and camel trains, and villages that were swept away under a rising sea of loose earth, were a few of the subsidiary occurrences that made the earthquake in Kansu one of the most ap palling catastrophes in history. Though the tremendous shaking-up oc curred in December, 1920, the story is only now beginning to spread beyond the narrow defiles which guard the entrance to Kansu Province. It is, perhaps, the most poorly advertised calamity that has occurred in modern times. Though Kansu is within telegraphic reach of the rest of the world, the details of the disaster have never come over the wires. The native population was too stunned and the few foreign residents were too busy in relief work to give any description of the dancing mountains and vanishing valleys. Mr. Josef W. Hall (Upton Close), who visited the earthquake area under the aus pices of the International Famine Relief Committee, has brought back one of the first accounts of the devastated country and the strange things that happen when the earth turns itself into a contortionist. The area of destruction, 1oo by 300 miles in extent, contains ten large cities, besides numerous villages. In it is the heart of the so-called loess country, where the soil is a mixture of clay and powdered quartz. A narrower region was com prised in the landslide district, where the loose earth cascaded down the valleys and buried every object in its path. A MOSLEM FANATIC AND HIS FOLLOWERS SEALED IN A CAVE Tales as strange as any that Roman historians have told of Pompeii are re counted by visitors to the devastated country. As three-fifths of the dead are Mohammedan, the non-Moslem Chinese claim that the earthquake was a visitation from Heaven against the disciples of the Prophet. Somehow, the Mohammedans have failed to deny this accusation with their usual vigor and have suddenly be come surprisingly humble. One of the most dramatic episodes of the disaster was the burial of Ma the Benevolent, a famous Moslem fanatic, and 300 of his followers, just as they had met in conclave to proclaim a holy war. The cave in which they had gathered was sealed by a terrific avalanche, while the group knelt on their prayer-mats.