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China mourns Qinghai quake dead
Flags at half-mast as China remembers victims of massive quake in Qinghai province.
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2010 05:35 GMT
Thousands of people remain homeless in Qinghai as aid efforts continue [Reuters]

China has declared a national day of mourning to remember the victims of last week's deadly earthquake in western Qinghai province.

On Wednesday, a week after the magnitude 6.9 quake struck, flags were lowered across China and at Chinese embassies and consulates worldwide in mourning for the dead.

At least 2,064 people are now known to have died in the quake, with hundreds still missing.

In Xining, capital of Qinghai province, residents, rescue workers, troops and officials joined three minutes official silence at 10am local time, bowing their heads while sirens and horns sounded in a gesture of grief.

In Beijing, state television also showed the nine senior members of ruling Communist Party, led by Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, and premier Wen Jiabao, with their heads bowed.

On Tiananmen Square, hundreds of mourners also stood in silence to commemorate the dead.

A front-page headline in the People's Daily, the ruling Communist Party's newspaper read "In solidarity with the people," while the website of the English language China was changed to black with a banner reading: "Sharing sorrow, moving forward."

Entertainment activities have been suspended across China, shutting down movie theatres, professional football matches, certain television programmes and some activities related to the upcoming Shanghai Expo, media reports said.

Foreign entertainment-related television channels had their programmes blocked in China, replaced by a notice on a black background saying it was due to the quake mourning.

Aid efforts continue

Aid and relief personnel have began pouring into the disaster area high on the Tibetan plateau after delays that officials attributed to its remote location.

At least another 175 people are still listed as missing following the quake, which also left more than 12,000 injured.

Snow and freezing night-time temperatures have added to the misery of survivors camping outside.

A three minute silence in Qinghai was observed on Wednesday to remember the victims [AFP]

The quake caused thousands of mainly mudbrick and wooden homes to collapse in the Yushu region of Qinghai, a rugged area at an altitude of around 4,000m populated by ethnic Tibetans.

Rescuers have continued to sift through rubble in the town of Jiegu, the hardest-hit town located near the quake's epicentre, but the bad weather has hindered relief efforts, slowing the arrival and delivery of desperately needed supplies.

Altitude sickness has also taken a toll on many of the newly arrived rescuers.

On Wednesday, snow and rain were forecast in Qinghai following a hail storm the day before.

The earthquake has been the latest blow to a country where tremors, floods and droughts often strike.

In May last year a quake rocked the southwestern province of Sichuan, killing at least 80,000 people, with thousands more unaccounted for.

But the Chinese government has used the Qinghai disaster to demonstrate its ability to use its power and resources to surmount disasters, and to rally citizens around a patriotic message of national unity.

Source:
Agencies
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