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China: Three Days Mourning For Quake Dead

From France’s AFP:

A woman cooks in the remains of her home in the earthquake-shaken town of Yinghua, Sichuan province May 18, 2008.

China declares mourning period as quake toll rises

JIANGYOU, China (AFP) – China on Sunday declared three days of mourning and suspended the Olympic torch relay nearly a week after a massive quake struck the country’s southwest, as the death toll continued to mount.

The announcements came after a powerful aftershock rattled devastated Sichuan province, killing at least three people and hampering China’s efforts to help nearly five million homeless facing the threats of disease and floods.

From Monday, the government ordered the national flag to fly at half-mast for three days and called for three minutes of silence nationwide at 2:28 pm (0628 GMT) Monday, exactly one week after the massive quake struck.

During the period of national mourning, the Olympic torch relay — eagerly awaited across China — has been suspended, organisers of the Beijing summer Games announced.

Authorities on Sunday raised the number of confirmed deaths to 32,476 from the quake and revised upward the strength of the quake to 8.0 on the Richter scale. The US Geological Survey has put its strength at a magnitude of 7.9…

The region has suffered at least 24 aftershocks of 5.0 or above on the Richter scale since Monday’s quake, amid all-out efforts to rescue more than 9,500 people still buried under the rubble of collapsed structures…

Officials have estimated the final death toll could eventually top 50,000.

In a bid to help quake survivors, two US military planes packed with food, power generators and other goods flew into Sichuan province, the first aid that China has accepted from foreign armed forces.

Rescue experts from Japan, Russia, Singapore and South Korea, as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong, have been allowed in to help the effort.

Rain also compounded the misery for many of the estimated 4.8 million who have been left without homes…

Flood fears also persisted, with the Sichuan government saying landslides triggered by Monday’s earthquake had blocked rivers and streams in at least 21 places, causing water levels to swell dangerously behind the rubble…

Worse is possibly to come, with China’s national meteorological centre predicting torrential rains later this week in the quake disaster zone, warning they could trigger landslides.

The World Health Organisation said Saturday that the lack of safe drinking water or proper waste disposal along with cramped conditions in makeshift camps was “conducive” to disease outbreaks.

The military, however, said that nuclear facilities in the region had been checked for signs of any damage and were confirmed safe.

Relief workers by Saturday had finally restored land connections with the worst-hit counties of Beichuan and Wenchuan, allowing the full horror of the quake to begin to emerge…

Maybe instead of making such a show of their grief they should do more to prepare for such eventualities.

Three Gorges Dam come to mind.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, May 18th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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