I'm sure many of you have already heard about the earthquake in China that happened Monday afternoon. As of 11:00 AM Pacific time, China's state media reports that 8,533 people are dead, including as many as 5,000 people in a single county. (This number is expected to climb throughout the day). There's also reports that 900 students are trapped beneath a collapsed high school in Dujiangyan City in Wenchuan County.
News of this is especially hard for me because I lived in Sichuan when I was a teacher at a communist boarding school there. I know, and I've been, to the cities and provinces that are being mentioned in the news reports. I've been trying to get through to my relatives, my friends and my former students; however, communication to China is difficult now. Several cell phone towers are down, and many people are trying to phone their relatives.
The New York Times and CNN are doing a great job with updating the latest information about this earthquake.
UPDATE 7:15 PM (Pacific Time)/Monday May 12, 2008:
No luck. I still haven't been able to get through to my relatives in Chengdu. I've been calling on day. There have been times when I get a dial tone, other times, it's just silence and then an operator says my call didn't go through. One time, instead of a dial tone, I heard a very unusual and somewhat eerie musical tune. It was odd, because it sounded "pretty," but the melody was just unnerving. The tune played for 30 seconds and then it cut to the tone you get when you're on the phone and you get disconnected. I've been thinking about all the people I know in Sichuan, and I have this really uneasy feeling. I think about the school, my students, the shopowners I met, and the people who I didn't know but saw and encountered during my stay and travels there. The AP, CNN and The New York Times are reporting that at least 10,000 are feared dead; I know that that number will go up as we head into the evening and tomorrow.