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China mourns mudslide victims as relief operation continues

08-16-2010 10:20 BJT Special Report:China Fights Worst Flood in Decades |

ZHOUQU, Gansu, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Amid sirens and blaring horns, people across China Sunday stood in tribute to victims of a massive mudslide in a remote northwest town.

The national flag of China flies at half mast at the Badaling Great Wall in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 15, 2010, to mourn for the victims of the Aug. 8 mudslide disaster in Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China's Gansu Province. China on Sunday held mournings for the mudslide victims, all over the country and at overseas embassies and consulates.(Xinhua/Gong Lei)
The national flag of China flies at half mast at the Badaling Great Wall in 
Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 15, 2010, to mourn for the victims of the Aug. 
8 mudslide disaster in Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in 
northwest China's Gansu Province. China on Sunday held mournings for the mudslide 
victims, all over the country and at overseas embassies and consulates.
(Xinhua/Gong Lei)

Chinese leaders, students, workers and members of the public paused for three minutes from 10 a.m. Sunday, a week after the devastating mudslide hit Zhouqu County, in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu Province.

At least 1,248 people have died and 496 are listed as missing.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and other top Chinese leaders stood and paid silent tribute to the victims at the beginning of a meeting by the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee held in Beijing on Sunday morning.

DEEP GRIEF

At the Dongjie Village in Zhouqu, more than 5,000 rescuers and villagers stood still on the debris of mudslide, bowing their heads in commemoration of those killed in the disaster.

A huge black banner hung in front of the mourners, and wreaths lay on the ground. The white lettering on the banner read, "Mourning in deep grief for deceased compatriots of the Zhouqu massive mudslide."

"I only feel sad as I stand on the debris of our homes," said villager Zhang Xiujuan.

"Although my husband, my son and I survived, I lost more than 30 relatives in the mudslide," she said.

In Dongjie, two thirds of the families were buried when the mudslide struck. And 368 of the 848 villagers died in the disaster.

Before and after the three-minute tribute, rescuers including troops and medical workers continued to clear the debris, searching for bodies and spraying disinfectant in the area.

Some survivors sat silently on the debris, still holding out hope that the bodies of relatives could be found.

In temporary tents, some bowed their heads, some knelt and some put their palms together to pray for the dead. Loud cries could be heard from time to time in the shelters.

"May the deceased rest in peace. We the people who are still alive must be strong and continue our lives," said Han Ying, who lost all her family members in the disaster.

Tibetans account for about a third of the total population in Zhouqu. The county sits in the steep valley of the Bailong River, a tributary of the Jialing River, which meets the mighty Yangtze River in Chongqing, and is hemmed in by rocky mountains on both sides.

At the nearby Heiyu and Labrang Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, monks and believers attended a religious ritual to mourn for the dead.

In Lanzhou, the provincial capital, about 10,000 people gathered at a city square to show respect for those killed in the mudslide.


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