Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Day of mourning after China quake

China will hold a day of mourning for victims of the earthquake (AP)

China has announced that Wednesday will be a national day of mourning for victims of the devastating earthquake in a remote Tibetan region, as the death toll rose above 2,000.

National flags will fly at half-mast across the country and at its embassies and consulates overseas, marking one week since the 6.9-magnitude quake hit, China's Cabinet said. All public entertainment will be suspended.

Chinese officials said the death toll in remote Yushu county in western Qinghai province, high on the Tibetan plateau, had risen to 2,039, while more than 12,000 people have been hurt. Another 200 people are still missing.

Relief efforts could be hindered by rain expected in the high-altitude region. Sleet, wind, and light snow are forecast for the next three days, said Guo Yinxiang, spokeswoman for the Qinghai Metereological Bureau.

Three people were rescued on Monday, including a 4-year-old girl and an elderly woman who survived under the rubble for almost a week because relatives used bamboo poles to push water and rice to them until rescuers pulled them out.

The rescue of Wujian Cuomao, 68, and Cairen Baji, 4, from a crumbled home in a village about 13 miles from the hardest-hit town of Jiegu was hailed by state media as a miracle and repeatedly played on television.

Relief workers also freed a Tibetan woman named Ritu from the rubble of a hillside house, state broadcaster China Central Television reported. Half her body had been trapped by the debris, the report said, but her vital signs were stable.

In Jiegu, thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks picked at rubble with shovels, performed funeral rites and threw food to survivors from the backs of trucks.

Relief and reconstruction work accelerated, with power and telecommunications services largely restored and aid convoys arriving in droves.

Convoys of military supply trucks were at a standstill, backed up for miles on the main road. At a supply depot, huge stacks of bottled water were piled up. More relief goods rumbled past mountainside hamlets where residents pitched government-provided tents along a two-lane highway that is the only connection between Jiegu and the provincial capital of Xining, the nearest big city.

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