China mourns earthquake victims

The official death toll from the magnitude 6.9 quake that shook a remote, mountainous corner of Qinghai province last Wednesday has reached 2,064, with 175 people still missing, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China mourns earthquake victims

Bowing their heads in silent tribute, thousands of officials, soldiers and civilians gathered Wednesday in ceremonies across China to mourn the 2,064 victims killed in a devastating quake that hit one week ago in a remote Tibetan region.

The official death toll from the magnitude 6.9 quake that shook a remote, mountainous corner of Qinghai province last Wednesday has reached 2,064, with 175 people still missing, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Most of the dead were ethnic Tibetans in Yushu's main town of Gyegu, about 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) above sea level on the wind-swept Tibetan highlands.

At 10 a.m. (0200 GMT), ranks of residents, troops and officials in Qinghai's provincial capital Xining bowed their heads for three minutes while sirens and horns sounded in a gesture of grief, according to Chinese state television footage.

Television also showed the nine members of ruling Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, led by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, with their heads bowed.

In Gyegu, residents and Buddhist monks assembled on a hill above the town where hundreds of victims' bodies were cremated last week, said Nami, one of the many Tibetan monks who has joined relief work there.

"We went to remember them, but now we have to focus on helping the survivors and rebuilding Gyegu," he said by telephone. "People are very sad. They will be for a long time."

Chinese national flags across the country were kept at half-mast and entertainment activities and programmes have been cut for the day.

On central Tiananmen Square in Beijing, hundreds of citizens stood, heads bowed. Tourists on the square continued as normal.

The earthquake has been the latest heavy blow to this huge country where tremors, floods and droughts often strike. A quake rocked the southwestern province of Sichuan in May 2008, killing at least 80,000 people, with thousands more unaccounted for and most likely dead.

But China's government has also used the disaster to demonstrate its ability to use its growing power and resources to surmount disasters, and to rally citizens around a patriotic message of national unity.

Agencies

Last Mod: 21 Nisan 2010, 14:47
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