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China mourns dead, steps up rebuilding a year after quake in Tibetan town

04-14-2011 17:26 BJT Special Report:7.1-magnitude Quake Hit Qinghai, China |

XINING, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Large crowds of people stood in silence early Thursday to mourn nearly 2,700 people killed in the quake that razed the plateau town of Gyegu in northwest China's Qinghai Province exactly a year ago.

A family prays for the lost relatives in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, northwest
China's Qinghai Province, April 14, 2011, the first anniversary of the Yushu Earthquake.
The 7.1-magnitude Yushu Earthquake, which occurred on April 14, 2010, claimed more than
2,200 lives. (Xinhua/Wu Guangyu)

The mourning began at 7:49 a.m., the exact time the 7.1-magnitude quake shook the predominantly Tibetan Gyegu town of mountain-locked Yushu Prefecture on April 14, 2010.

From the epicenter in Gyegu to the provincial capital Xining, people from different ethnic groups stood in silent tribute, with the sad reverberating sounds of vehicle horns filling the air.

A black banner was put up in the compound of Yushu Prefecture's government, with white Chinese characters reading "in sad memory of our compatriots killed in the quake and heroes who died saving others."

The most destructive quake in Yushu's history shook 19 villages in six counties, killed 2,698 people and left 270 missing.

More than 300 students tearfully bowed their heads on the temporary campus of Yushu's Red Flag Primary School. The former school building was damaged in the quake, but none of its 1,000 students were harmed.

A makeshift exhibition counter was stacked with children's works: paintings and essays in memory of the dead, and models of the best possible new campus they could imagine.

"We've taught the children to have faith," said the school's principal Fu Wencai. "New homes and schools are being built, and we're all confident in our future."

Students from Yushu mourn for the earthquake victims during a commemoration for the first
anniversary of the Yushu earthquake at Yushu Middle School in Benxi, northeast China's
Liaoning Province, April 14, 2011. The students from Yushu in northwest China's Qinghai
Province have been studying in Benxi after the 7.1-magnitude earthquake occurred in Yushu
on April 14, 2010. (Xinhua/Jiang Bing)

On behalf of 5.6 million Qinghai residents, vice governor Wang Lingjun paid his respects to family members of Wong Fuk-wing, a Hong Kong truck driver who died while saving others after the quake.

Wong, a volunteer at an orphanage in Yushu, was crushed by falling debris after pulling four people, including three orphans, to safety. He was 46.

A vast number of Tibetan Buddhists walked clockwise around the sacred Mani stone mound in town, holding prayers' wheels and muttering a six-syllable prayer to observe their daily ritual.

Many crawled while making the prayers.

"Our home toppled in the quake, but magically all four of us survived without injuries," said Karma, 23. Many Tibetans go with one name. "I got up before daybreak this morning to pray for the dead and the living."

About 900 monks from the three best known monasteries in Yushu -- Trangu, Gyegu and Renyak -- gathered at a hillside sky burial site in Gyegu town at 10 a.m., chanting sutras for about 1,000 quake dead who were cremated there last year.

"This prayer ritual serves the dead souls of the people who perished in the Yushu quake, the Japanese quake and tsunami, and everyone else who suffers from natural disasters or wars around the globe," said Lodroe Nyima Rinpoche, a living Buddha of the Trangu Monastery.

Sonam Namtso tearfully stood in front of the Mani stone mound, her baby son in her arms. The child was born two weeks after the quake. "I hope my dead parents will be happy to see him."

The prayer ritual made her feel peaceful at heart, said Sonam Namtso. "With so many high monks praying for my parents and guiding their souls, it's relieving to think they are doing fine now."


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