Special report: Strong Earthquake Jolts SW China
Rescuers carry Shen Peiyun, who is saved 145.5 hours after Monday's earthquake, to a hospital at Yingxiu Township of Wenchuan County, the epicenter of Monday's earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province, on May 18, 2008. Fifty-three years old Shen Peiyun was saved on Sunday after the rescuers' eight-hour efforts.(Xinhua Photo)
BEIJING, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Flags are to be kept at half-mast and all public amusements will be suspended for three days from Monday as China begins an official mourning period for victims of the May 12 earthquake.
The State Council, the Cabinet, on Sunday ordered a nationwide respect for the dead. The Olympic torch relay will also be suspended from Monday to Wednesday, the Beijing Olympic organizing committee said.
China's diplomatic missions abroad were also ordered to observe the mourning order, and condolence books are to be opened in the Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassies and consulates around the world.
The public are asked to stand in silence for three minutes from2:28 p.m. Monday, while automobiles, trains, and ships will sound their air sirens.
The order was issued in a brief circular that contained no further details.
TORCH RELAY SUSPENSION
The Beijing Olympic torch relay in east China's Ningbo city will be put off for three days until May 22, the local torch relay organizing committee said Sunday.
Lao Jinlong, deputy head of Ningbo City Sports Bureau, said, "All the public entertainment activities will be cancelled during the three days of mourning, including the torch relay."
The Ningbo leg is the fourth leg of the torch relay in Zhejiang province.
The death toll from the powerful earthquake rose to 32,476 nationwide as of 2 p.m. Sunday, while the number of injured reached 220,109, according to the emergency response office under the State Council.
PUBLIC APPEAL TO NATIONAL MOURNING
Ge Jianxiong, a professor with Fudan University in Shanghai, made an appeal to China's top legislature to mark May 19 a national mourning day in his article published in Southern Metropolis Daily on May 16.
The commemoration could express people's condolence and respect to the dead and government's concern for lives as well as strong determination to reconstruction after the quake, Ge said.
The professor also appealed to all religious organs to express grief and pray in their own ways and most of his appeal's content has been consistent with the Cabinet's order.
He suggested no activities should interfere in people's regular working and living, and any forms of mourning in quake-hit areas should be subject to disaster relief.
The professor, who had received disputed comments on his attitude toward some social issues, has been widely supported by Internet users for the appeal.
Many netizens expressed their hopes that professor Ge's appeal could attract an attention by the government. According to Chinese laws, the State Council has the power to order half-mast.
Some people living in Sichuan suggested to memorize May 12 as a provincial mourning day to encourage the survivors of the quake and all schools should half-mast.
Hu Guangwei, a scholar with Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences, said mourning day will not only memorize the victims but also enlighten later generations with a spirit of getting united.
Professor Wang Jianping with Sichuan University said China should codify a national mourning day and make it a convention.
China quake death toll rises to 32,477 by 14:00 Sunday
BEIJING, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from the powerful earthquake that jolted southwest China's Sichuan Province had risen to 32,477 nationwide as of 2 p.m. Sunday, while the number of injured reached 220,109, according to the emergency response office under the State Council. Full story
Magnitude of SW China earthquake revised to 8.0
BEIJING, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The China Seismological Bureau (CSB) Sunday revised the magnitude of southwest China earthquake from 7.8 to 8.0 on the Richter scale. Full story
Chinese President expresses gratitudes for foreign aid in quake relief
Chinese President Hu Jintao Saturday night speaks at a meeting on rescue and relief work of the earthquake, expressing gratitudes to foreign countries and people who have offered aid since a major earthquake struck the country. (Xinhua Photo)
CHENGDU, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao Saturday night expressed gratitude to foreign countries and people who have offered aid since a major earthquake struck the country. Full story
President Hu renews call to save lives in remote villages
Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) talks with with military officers when he inspects disaster relief work in the quake-hit Xuankou Town of Wenchuan County in southwest China's Sichuan Province, May 17, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)
CHENGDU, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday urged rescue teams to reach remote villages that were battered by the strong earthquake in the southwestern Sichuan Province as soon as possible. Full story
Chinese President encourages quake victims to overcome difficulties
Chinese President Hu Jintao consoles locals in a village in Beichuan county, May 16, 2008. He encouraged them to be confident in overcoming hardships caused by the disaster.(Xinhua Photo)
BEIJING, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao Friday went to Beichuan County of Mianyang City to visit people affected by the southwest China earthquake, encouraging them to be confident in overcoming hardships caused by the disaster. Full story
Chinese Premier stresses all-out efforts to rescue quake victims
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao presides a meeting of the general headquarters of quake relief under the State Council Saturday afternoon. (Xinhua Photo)
BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday underscored unremitting efforts in searching and rescuing people buried in debris in the earthquake in southwestern Sichuan Province. Full story