Relief workers remembering those who died
Flags are flying at half-mast across China.
China is coming to the end of an official period of mourning for those who died in last week’s earthquake. For three days, there have been no entertainment events and the government has suspended the Olympic torch relay.
Chinese officials have said that the death toll from the catastrophe has now risen to over 41,000. Over 230,000 people were injured.
Along with the many accounts of suffering and loss, there have been a few amazing stories of survival. Chinese news reported today that a woman in Hongbai has been rescued after being trapped in a tunnel for nine days. She has been taken to hospital and is expected to survive.
However, hopes are quickly fading for those who remain trapped. According to the State Council over 32,000 people are missing in the quake area.
The rescue workers’ attention is now turning towards the recovery of bodies from the rubble and providing food, shelter and drinking water for the survivors.
But the relief operation has been hampered by a series of aftershocks, the strongest measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale.
Chinese news reports say that mudslides have buried 200 relief workers in the past four days. There are also reports that thousands of residents have been evacuated from an area in Qingchuan county where large cracks have appeared in the top of a mountain.
On Monday, tens of thousands of people rushed from their homes after the government warned of a possible major aftershock. They slept on the streets or drove to open ground.
Persistent rain is compounding the misery for the homeless. The foreign ministry has appealed to the international community to provide tents for the five million people who have lost their homes.
Yesterday, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to send 250,000 temporary housing units to the region by the end of June, and one million within three months.