Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic
Residents fled buildings for the sidewalks in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
For the past few months, our colleagues at All Things Considered have been planning a week-long series of broadcasts from China. In advance of their trip there, hosts and producers have kept a blog, called Chengdu Diary.
They had intended to focus on "how the ever-widening generational divide affects people and society." My, how things can change.
Earlier today, an earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, devastated Sichuan province. Melissa Block was there, in the middle of an interview, when it hit. The ground "undulated," she said. The Chinese government has estimated that at least 9,000 people have died.
We'll talk to William C. Kirby, the Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History at Harvard University. Just a few weeks ago, he was in Sichuan.
Kirby will tell us about the region and its two largest cities, and he'll compare today's earthquake to one in Tangshan, back in 1976.
If you have friends or family in Sichuan, have you spoken to them today? How are they? If you've visited the region, tell us what it's like.