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Up to 7,000 people may be dead in China’s Sichuan province where a strong earthquake hit today. In one county of the province, 80 percent of the buildings collapsed. This includes schools, dormitories, and factories. A Ford Motor facility was evacuated for a brief time. The epicenter of the quake is more than 1,000 miles southwest of Beijing, but the Chinese capital felt it too. Construction cranes stopped work and hundreds of workers left office buildings. Our Scott Tong was working in Marketplace’s Shanghai bureau during the earthquake. He says it stopped work for a short time there, as well.
Scott Tong: To give you a little perspective, the per capita income nationally is about $2,000, and in the province of Sichuan, it’s about $1,300. So, it’s a quite poor part of China, quite rural. It’s a part of China that takes a lot of people from the countryside and it sends the migrants out to the factories, to the coastal cities to find jobs. So, it’s the equivalent of someone in the middle of the United States sending parents out to the East Coast for jobs.
Renita Jablonski: Of course, as the day goes on, we’re going to be hearing more about just how severe the injuries, casualties were out of this. What about in Shanghai where you are. Did you feel anything there? Were there any reports there?
Scott Tong:We work in about a 30-floor high rise building in Shanghai’s downtown, and we actually didn’t feel anything. But just a few blocks away, in many office buildings we heard from friends that they felt tremors. They’re a little bit dizzy right now, and they all had to evacuate their office buildings. One of the tallest buildings in the world is right across the river from us, it’s called the Jin Mao Tower, and they had forced evacuations of that building. So, there’s been a lot of people who’ve basically knocked off for the rest of the day here in Shanghai, up in Beijing.
Renita Jablonski: All right, our Scott Tong in Shanghai. Glad to hear you’re safe. Thanks a lot.
Tong: OK, Renita.