Two Israeli students are missing after one of the worst earthquakes in decades hit western China.
The number of reported deaths in the Monday afternoon quake in Sichuan Province was at 8,533 but was expected to climb much higher.
The Israeli students were on a trip away from their Reedman College study abroad program. Ten of their classmates have been confirmed safe.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake ravaged an area that included Wolong Nature Reserve, the country’s most famous panda reserve and a popular tourist site.
Israeli student Ronen Medzini was able to send a text message to The Associated Press despite the quake knocking down more than 2,300 cell phone towers.
“Traffic jams, no running water, power outs, everyone sitting in the streets, patients evacuated from hospitals sitting outside and waiting,” he wrote.
A 3.9 magnitude earthquake struck in the Tongzhou district, in the eastern half of Beijing, minutes after the major quake.
Dini Freundlich, the co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Beijing, said she felt the earth shaking in Beijing.
Although they have no official presence in Sichuan, Chabad personnel elsewhere in China are waiting to help those affected by the disaster. The Israeli embassy in Beijing also is waiting for local news and rescue reports about the Israeli students.