China Declares National Mourning for Yushu Quake Victims (Updated)

Wednesday will be an official day of mourning for the victims of the Yushu earthquake. From the Guardian:

China has ordered the halt of public entertainment tomorrow as it holds a day of mourning for the 2,000 victims of last week’s earthquake in western Qinghai province. Flags will fly at half-mast in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, theatre and sporting performances are cancelled, karaoke bars shut and the culture ministry has ordered suspension of all online music, games, comics, films and TV shows.

The nationwide commemoration was announced as hail and snow hit the high-altitude Qinghai region, hampering relief efforts, after a mass prayer for victims in Gyegu near the centre of the quake in the predominantly Tibetan Yushu county yesterday was battered by sandstorms, above. State media reported several aid lorries had overturned on the icy mountain road running 600 miles from the provincial capital of Xining. Officials reported the death toll had risen to 2,064, with more than 12,000 injured and 175 still missing. China says the quake was 7.1 magnitude.

Danwei has translated the official notice for the Day of Mourning from the Ministry of Culture.

Meanwhile, concerns remain over the safety of schools, as many crumbled in the quake, despite a government pledge to inspect and shore up school buildings nationwide in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. From AP:

The government last year launched a vast project to inspect and strengthen schools across the country, and about 70,000 of them need work to be made quake-proof, a top education official indicated last month.

But some people, including students who survived last week’s quake in Yushu county, have angrily asked why schools in the remote Tibetan community hadn’t been fixed already. The quake’s overall death toll rose to 2,064 Tuesday.

“If every year half the money spent on cars, eating, drinking and traveling overseas were saved and spent on strengthening rural buildings, in a single year the buildings of millions of people could be made more earthquake-proof,” a former top engineer for the China Earthquake Administration, Wang Zifa, wrote on his blog Saturday in a dig at officials’ spending.

His post made a point of saying “especially schools.”

Update: Sydney Morning Herald has an update on the day of mourning:

The front pages of Chinese newspapers were bathed in black and the nation’s flag lowered to half-mast around the country Wednesday as China began a day of mourning for its quake victims.

Flags were also to be lowered at Chinese embassies and consulates worldwide as the government remembered victims of the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in northwestern China a week ago that left at least 2,064 people dead.

Qinghai held a province-wide three minutes of silence at 10:00 am (0200 GMT). Chinese President Hu Jintao also paid silent tribute to victims of the quake, the official Xinhua news agency said.

See also “Netizens Criticize Earthquake News for not Covering the Disaster” from China in Transition.

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