In May 2011, I went with Habitat for Humanity to the hardest earthquake-hit area of Sichuan (from the devastating May 12, 2008 Wenchuan earthquake). We paid our respects to a memorial located on top of a village that had completely disappeared, and all the people with it, the day the earthquake struck. A man working at the site turned out to be from the village. He was spared because he was away that day.
There were photos at the site showing the ‘before’ image of the village. It’s insanely humbling, and terrifying, to look out at the landscape before you and see absolutely nothing resembling the photos. Whole mountains had been leveled. In one area, we noticed the color of the mud differed. We asked a man staffing the site why this was, and he told us that bit of mud wasn’t native to their village, but had been violently thrown over from several mountains away.
The crosses in the photo are fossilized wood that the earth spit out during the rumblings. We were told that some of them date back to over a hundred years.