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China mourns the Qinghai quake victims Today

Updated: 2010-04-23

Around ruins and tents, and in cities and the vast countryside, survivors, rescuers and people around the nation will together mourn the quake victims on Wednesday - a week after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Yushu prefecture.

The Chinese flag on the Potala Palace Square was lowered to half-mast at 00:00 Wednesday in a show of respect for those killed in the April 14 earthquake in Qinghai Province.

China mourns the Qinghai quake victims Today

  The Chinese flag on the Potala Palace Square was lowered to half-mast at 00:00 Wednesday in a show of respect for those killed in the April 14 earthquake in Qinghai Province.[Xinhua]

The death toll had risen to 2,064 as of Tuesday, with 175 missing and 12,135 wounded, the rescue headquarters said.

To express deep condolences, the State Council on Tuesday declared that the entire nation will mourn the dead on Wednesday - the second time the country has organized nationwide mourning since the devastating Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

The national flag will fly at half-mast across the country and its embassies and consulates around the world, according to the State Council. Public entertainment will also be suspended.

In Qinghai province, where Yushu is located, people will observe three minutes of silence starting 10 am to the sound of sirens and hooting horns of cars, trains and ships, the provincial government said in a statement on its website.

Mourning ceremonies will also be held at the capital, Xining, and at Gyegu town, the epicenter, in Yushu.

Organizations and companies in other parts of the country will respond to the "no entertainment" call by temporarily closing cinemas and online games parlors, and postponing football league matches. Government websites will change their color to black and white.

"Don't forget the disaster in Yushu, and let's pray for people there, wishing that they get through the difficulties," said anchorman Yu Jia of CCTV's sports channel, which plans to stop airing an NBA basketball match on Wednesday.

In Gyegu, monks have been chanting sutras for worshippers queuing to enter a tent used as a temporary shrine to refill or light butter lamps in memory of those who died in the quake.

Local Tibetans told China Daily they will also pay tributes at temples, tent shrines or holy sites.

Forty-eight-year-old Tsering Yangkyi, whose husband is still out searching for her missing brother, said she will join the mourning ceremony on Wednesday.

"After that, I will find a place next to the temple ruins, and pray for the dead and for our future".

Meanwhile on Tuesday, search and rescue operations continued amid snow, which snarled traffic and slowed delivery of relief goods.

At around noon, a light hailstorm swept Gyegu. Amid lightning and thunder, peanut-sized hailstones fell on the devastated town as survivors and rescuers were having lunch.

The storm lasted 40 minutes and the roofs of the blue tents were soon covered with a thin layer of white.

Temperatures in Gyegu might fall below freezing point in the coming days, according to weather forecasts.

Since late Monday, snow or rain have fallen on roads leading to Yushu, making delivery of relief goods more difficult, a local weather forecast official said.

In some parts, snow accumulated to 4 cm, forcing trucks, vans, pick-ups and cars to reduce speed on the slippery road, said Ma Yuancang, deputy head of the Qinghai provincial meteorology bureau.

To help fight the cold spell in Yushu, 20,000 coal stoves will soon arrive in the prefecture, which has been receiving 700 tons of coal each day since Sunday, according to a spokesperson for the Qinghai civil affairs department.

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