Chinese quake death toll nears 32,500, as a major aftershock occurs and mourning begins
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The government of China announced it would begin three days of mourning on Monday, as the death toll from the 7.9 magnitude earthquake centered in the Sichuan province has been raised to nearly 32,500, with 220,000 injured. At 2:28 p.m local time, flags will be moved to half mast for three days, there will be three minutes of silence, and entertainment in public will be suspended for the mourning period.
Authorities have continued to pull victims out of the rubble resulting from the quake, 65 since the original quake, with two pulled out alive more than six days after the earthquake. Rescuers are also trying to pull out two still alive. More than 9,500 people are still trapped under rubble throughout the province.
Chinese authorities are worried as aftershocks continue to affect the region devastated by the initial earthquake, while water builds up in clogged rivers. An 5.8 magnitude aftershock shook buildings and caused people to evacuate in Chengdu, 200 km (125 miles) south of the aftershock's epicenter. The aftershock killed three people and injured 1,000 others. A buildup of water is occurring 3 km (2 miles) upstream of Beichuan, where a man was freed from under a hospital's remains.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said to families of victims in Yinghua that "We will make every effort to save our people even if there is only the slightest hope and possibility." They are preventing people from going into the affected region for fear of these conditions. Families of possible victims who tried to enter the affected region were not allowed into the area by police, due to fears of aftershocks and the clogged rivers.
60 aid organizations from 13 countries have assisted so far with the earthquake, including Japan, Russia, Taiwan, South Korea, the United States and Singapore, and in addition to aid from inside China there has been 6 billion yuan (858 million United States dollars) of aid.