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Earthquake in China Affects Local Student

The desperate search continues for people buried alive in the rubble and devastation following yesterday's earthquake in China. KSMU's Kristian Kriner spoke with a local student who has family near the epicenter of the earthquake.

Xiaomei Shu is a graduate student at the Missouri State University Campus in Mountain Grove.

She's been studying Molecular Biology and grape testing for the past three months.

Shu's sister lives about 100 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake in Sichuan.

Shu couldn't reach her sister at first, but has finally got through to her.

She is alive but her home has experienced damage.

"She and her family are okay, and they have passed a very hard time especially at night. They are all in the street and I think it must be much more serious than in my hometown," Shu said.

Shu says that in the city where her sister lives there are 900 people dead.

She also spoke with her parents and she says they felt the earthquake, but there was no damage to their home.

"I called them many times during the earthquake. They are okay. They went outside and stayed in the open ground and they are safe and their houses are also safe," Shu said.

She also has a college friend living near the epicenter, whom she has not been able to reach yet.

The official death toll in the magnitude 7.9 earthquake is now more than 12,000.

Thousands more are missing, including more than two dozen British and American tourists who were thought to be panda-watching in the area when the earthquake hit.

Shu says this hard time will eventually pass.

"I wish that don't worry about it and keep going. I think it will pass soon and I hope all people are safe in my hometown," Shu said.

Bodies covered in white sheets line many streets.

The search for survivors has been hindered by heavy rains, but the Chinese government is trying to reassure citizens that they can handle a crisis like this.

For KSMU News, I'm Kristian Kriner.