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China Comes to Standstill to Mourn Quake Dead

  • VOA News

China has observed the first of three days of mourning for its earthquake victims.

Mourners gathered Monday in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, shouting "Go, China" as well as words of support for hard-hit Sichuan province.

Exactly one week from the time a seven-point-nine-magnitude earthquake hit last Monday, the nation observed three minutes of silence, starting at 2:28 p.m. local time (0628 UTC). Traffic halted, air raid sirens blared, and people stopped their work to bow their heads. China's top officials, including President Hu Jintao, were among them, appearing in public with white flowers in their lapels.

The government has suspended its Olympic torch relay for three days and Internet Web sites were ordered to shut down entertainment content.

But as the country mourned, there was a report of more casualties. The official Xinhua news agency says a mudslide in the disaster area buried more than 200 relief workers. Chinese authorities say the quake has killed more than 34-thousand people, and that the final death toll could be above 50-thousand.

The number of those found alive has been shrinking day by day, but Chinese media report that at least two more people were pulled out of the rubble alive Monday.

Xinhua says three counties in China (Beichuan, Maoxian and Wolong) are still without power, but most have restored communications lines. Hard-hit Beichuan county is still relying on emergency communication vehicles.

Supplies are short and China's health care system is struggling to cope with the people who are injured. China announced Monday that it would accept international medical teams, and it issued a worldwide appeal for tents.

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