Hawaii visitor to China and relatives are shaken but OK
Two relatives of a research fellow at the East-West Center are shaken but safe after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck central China yesterday.
Christopher McNally, a researcher who specializes in China, was with a dozen journalists in Beijing as part of the East-West Center's Jefferson Fellowships when the quake struck Sichuan province.
McNally said his sister-in-law was in the living room of her sixth-floor apartment in Chengdu, the provincial capital, when the disaster struck. Lasting a full minute, the quake left the apartment with cracked walls and littered with broken glass, McNally said, adding that his sister-in-law was unharmed. His brother-in-law, who was at the Sichuan Conservatory, where he works as a piano teacher, was also uninjured.
"Nobody in Chengdu has ever experienced something like this," he said yesterday during a phone interview from Beijing. People were sleeping outside and in their vehicles fearing that aftershocks would occur.
McNally and the group of journalists -- one from Hawaii and the rest from the mainland and various places in Asia -- were due to travel to Chengdu and Chongqing as part of the theme of the Jefferson program called "Beyond the Boomtowns: Development Challenges in 'The Other China,'" according to McNally and the East-West Center Web site. The Hawaii reporter is Hawaii Public Radio News Director Kayla Rosenfeld.
McNally said they were to assess their situation yesterday to determine whether they will still be able to go.
He and others in the fellowship program were in a museum in Beijing when they noticed a large chandelier gradually swaying to and fro. It was then that they learned that a massive earthquake had just struck Sichuan.
"I didn't feel anything. Everything in Beijing was normal," McNally said.