Flushing residents were scrambling to check on their loved ones overseas after a devastating earthquake killed thousands in central China Monday afternoon.
China's state run news agency Xinghua reported that a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck Sichuan Province shortly before 2:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, causing widespread damage and thousands of casualties.
On Flushing's Main Street Tuesday afternoon, Mandarin newspapers were plastered with scenes of destruction while televisions tuned to Asian news networks drew small crowds in restaurants and bakeries. Flushing resident Tina Liang, who has several family members who live in China, said it took her family hours to make sure everyone was accounted for and all right as news of the quake made its way to New York.
Xinghua reported that as of Tuesday afternoon, more than 12,000 people had been confirmed dead and more than 18,000 were missing, many believed to be trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.
U.S. and Chinese officials said Tuesday that the death toll will likely rise dramatically as rescuers were still struggling to reach some of the areas closest to the epicenter of the quake.
"It definitely stopped me in my tracks for a second," said Liang, whose family members live in southeastern China, which suffered little damage from the tremblor. "It kind of reminded me of Sept. 11 in a way because all of a sudden I had to stop and think about where everyone I knew was, if my family was there or could be there."
Chang Qi, another Flushing resident, said his mother stayed at the phone for hours throughout the day trying to reach her two sisters' families who live in the Gansu Province of China, where Xinghua reported 48 people had died in the quake.
"Everyone turned out to be OK," Qi said. "It was scary for a while though. We couldn't get a hold of anyone."
City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) and Assemblywoman Ellen Young (D-Flushing) each said their offices had been bombarded by residents offering assistance in the day following the earthquake.
"Communications are not up yet in the heaviest hit areas of in Sichuan, but it's heartening to know that New Yorkers area stepping up with expressions of sympathy and offers of aid relief," Liu said Monday.
Young and Liu encouraged donations to be made to the American Red Cross. To donate to the Red Cross, call 1-800-HELP-NOW, log on to www.nyredcross.org or mail donations to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 4002018, Des Moines, IA 50340-2018.
"This is a critical time so soon after these disasters that people will need the most help, and it is crucial for those of us who are more fortunate to lend a hand," Young said.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@
©2008 Community News Group
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