NPR's Siegel was understated about being rocked on the 27th floor of his hotel. He called it "very unsettling," leaving "very jangled nerves." His colleague Block (no link) traveled to the town of Dujiangyan where a three-story school had collapsed on top of as many as 1,000 teenage students: "I just walked by the bodies of at least a dozen children that were wrapped in shrouds laid out on the ground," she recounted, "victim upon victim, laid out on the ground, with their families, who have found their children, in unstoppable grief."
From Beijing, NBC's Mark Mullen listed damage including cut off telephones and electricity and blocked roads and rails. He called the response of the news media "very open…quickly televising pictures." Prime Minister Wen Jiabao "responded unusually fast," judged ABC's Neal Karlinsky, with 20,000 soldiers dispatched to the province by nightfall "setting up portable aid centers in tents." CBS had Celia Hatton on the job, who only last week was in Bangkok trying to get access to Myanmar to report on the cyclone. She relayed reports that a chemical plant making ammonia had ruptured, requiring 60,000 people to escape toxic fumes.
ABC's New York based Ned Potter (no link) pointed out that most modern urban construction in China adheres to building codes that allow them to sway instead of collapsing during an earthquake. He expected most of the damage to be in the older brick and stone structures in rural areas. On NBC, NPR's Siegel supported that supposition: "In Chengdu, rather a large city, the losses, I gather, are rather slight. Most of the city is undamaged." As ABC's Karlinsky put it: "The hardest hit areas remain out of reach, cut off by roads blocked by tons of debris."
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