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19.05.2008 General News

Emotion pours into China's national mourning

By CNN
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People across China observed three minutes of silence on Monday as the country began three days of national mourning to honor the victims of last week's massive earthquake.

Sadness and joy intermingled Monday as a week of frayed emotions were collectively laid bare by a nation.

As the country observed the silence, the state-run news agency reported that more than 200 relief workers had been buried by a mud flow in Sichuan province, site of last week's devastating earthquake.
Earlier in the day, Xinhua reported that two women had been rescued Monday.

Car, truck and train horns blared across China starting at 2:28 p.m. (6:28 a.m. GMT) Monday afternoon, exactly a week after a massive earthquake. Traffic halted, work stopped and people bowed their heads for three minutes during the "wail of grief" to observe the moment when their country shook.

The observance erupted into a loud outpouring of emotion among thousands of people in Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan province. They ended their 180 seconds of silent observance with shouts of support for the recovery effort.

The Olympic torch relay was suspended during the mourning period, China's state-run television announced. The torch was going to be in the eastern cities of Ningbo and Jiaxing in Zhejiang Province on Monday, then in Shanghai on Tuesday and Wednesday.

By Sunday evening, the official death toll rose to 32,477, according to state-run media. Another 220,109 were wounded in the major quake, Xinhua said.

Amid the bleak toll, survival stories emerged.

Two women were rescued from the rubble of a collapsed residential building in central China on Monday, almost a week after the powerful China earthquake, Xinhua reported.

Wang Fazhen, 50, was rescued at about 10:30 a.m. local time Monday.

The other woman, who was not identified, was pulled from the same area about 40 minutes later, the agency reported.

The women were rescued at a coal mine in Beichuan, a county in China's Sichuan province.

On Sunday a 53-year-old man, was pulled out of the rubble in Yingxiu town in Sichuan's Wenchuan county -- near the epicenter -- 148 hours after the quake, Xinhua said. The effort took eight hours, the news agency said.

Even as miraculous stories of survival were reported, resources continued to be poured into the nation's massive relief operations.

So far, almost 60 aid organizations from 13 countries were assisting in the aftermath of the quake. Among the countries are India, France, Singapore, the Philippines and the United States.

Two U.S. military planes landed in Chengdu Sunday with blankets, water and other relief supplies. The first plane -- a C-17 cargo jet -- flew from a U.S. base in Hawaii, while the second flight came from Alaska, officials said.

Xinhua announced that it increased the magnitude of the quake from 7.8 to 8.0. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the temblor at 7.9, which CNN has been reporting. The USGS figure remains unchanged as of Sunday.

Early Sunday, a moderate aftershock rattled areas, while fears of flash flooding and landslides hindered rescue efforts.

Sunday's 5.7-magnitude aftershock shook the region near the border of Sichuan and Gansu provinces just after 1 a.m., the USGS said.

Thousands of aftershocks have plagued the area since the May 12 quake.

Just hours earlier, concerns over a damaged dam and rising water levels at two lakes triggered the mass evacuation of 30,000 people -- including rescuers and journalists -- in at least 10 villages and townships, Chinese officials said.

People down-river from the quake-damaged Kuzhu dam in Beichuan county were ordered to leave the area Saturday afternoon over fears it might burst, according to Xinhua.

The two lakes were created when the quake caused landslides that blocked the Qingjiang River in Qingchuan county. Both bodies of water have fast-rising water levels, prompting concerns of flooding, an official at the Guangyuan disaster relief center said.

The quake was the worst tremor to strike China in three decades; a 1976 earthquake killed more than 250,000 people.

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