China earthquake leaves Oklahoma impact

Monday, May 12th 2008, 8:23 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

Monday's major earthquake in China is also being felt in Oklahoma from an emotional standpoint.

The death toll from the quake is approaching 9,000. A University of Oklahoma professor, along with an OU student with relatives in China spoke about the disaster.

Yan Zhang is studying botany at OU and Yigi Luo is one of her professors, both are stunned by the news of the devastating earthquake in their home country.

"My dad says the office, his office, the ceiling fell down but it didn't hurt him," Zhang said.

Though located far away from the epicenter of the quake, her family felt the aftershocks.

"As I know, nobody got hurt, but I don't know others," Zhang said. "I just know my family and my friends."

Luo's family also made it through okay.

"I still have my parents, my brother and sister there," Luo said. "Probably they may feel it, but it's quite far away from the Sichuan Province."

Randy Keller with the U.S. Geological Survey said the area was hit early Sunday with three magnitude-five earthquakes that some may have ignored.

"A magnitude-five, when you're in an area that active wise, a magnitude-five is not that unusual, so people can take it for granted a little bit," Keller said.

Peter Gries spent part of his childhood in China, and is the director of OU's Institute of U.S. China Issues. He said building codes in some areas may account for the high death tolls.

"But there is also huge amounts of housing stock that is not very well regulated," Gries said. "Very simple brick construction that is very vulnerable to this kind of an earthquake."

Luo and Gries will both travel to China next week for a conference. They don't think the earthquake will affect their plans.

In 1976, China was hit with a 7.8 earthquake and nearly 250,000 people died.