China is today holding a national day of mourning as the death toll from f last week's earthquake in Yushu, rose above 2,000. Across the country, flags flew at half mast and public entertainment stopped as a mark of respect, a week after the powerful quake hit. Newspapers and news websites carried a black masthead. Black-clad news presenters read emotional messages of mourning. In Qinghai province, where the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit, people held three minutes of silence in honour of the dead. In Yushi, the epicentre, hundreds of rescue workers, residents and children in school uniforms stood silently for a ceremony held on a hill surrounded by rubble from destroyed buildings.
The official death toll in Yushu has climbed to 2,046, with more than 12,000 people hurt and nearly 200 still missing, according to official reports. Tens of thousands of people have been left homeless. Reports also came out that a teacher had managed to save all 830 of his pupils a in the disaster, by his fast reaction to an early-morning tremor that came just before the main earthquake. More than 100 school children were killed as other schools in the region collapsed. But Yanli Duode evacuated the building after sensing danger. “An ominous feeling made me uncomfortable but I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was," the deputy head of the Number One Minorities Middle School in Yushu told the Daily Telegraph newspaper. He told how he got out of bed and ran to the children’s dormitories with four other teachers, ordering pupils to leave the buildings.
This morning in Jiegu, the worst hit town, rescue workers collecting bodies and holding funerals paused for the silence. The relief effort there is still going on with Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns working alongside the army and other rescue workers. The nuns and monks, who played a large part in the rescue were conspicuously absent from footage of the memorial ceremonies. The state media have largely played down the monks' role in relief efforts, focusing instead on government aid.Tens of thousands are now living in temporary shelters or tents in freezing overnight temperatures. Qiang Wei, the Communist Party secretary for Qinghai, asked the people to unite and rebuild after the quake. “Today, we are gathered here to pay our tribute and send our condolences... The earthquake showed no mercy, but we have love. Let us wipe our tears off... and strive to meet a brighter tomorrow and let a more beautiful, wealthy and socialist Yushu stand on the vast Tibetan plateau.”