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China Declares Day of Mourning for Quake Victims

  • VOA News

People chase a truck as Tibetan Buddhist monks distribute relieves goods amid the earthquake devastation in Jiegu, Yushu county, in China's northwestern province of Qinghai on April 19, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ LIU Jin

China has set Wednesday as a national day of mourning, a week after a powerful earthquake killed more than 2,000 people in a Tibetan region of the country's northwest.

China's State Council, or Cabinet, said Tuesday all flags in China and in embassies and consulates around the world would be flown at half-staff to mark the 6.9 magnitude quake that hit the remote Yushu prefecture.

China's official Xinhua news agency announced Tuesday the toll from the April 14 quake has risen to 2,039 people dead and 195 missing. The quake also injured more than 12,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

Relief supplies continue to arrive in the high-altitude, ethnic Tibetan area known as "the roof of the world."

Emergency workers rescued three people Monday, including a 68-year-old woman and a 4-year-old girl pulled from under the rubble of a collapsed building in the town of Jiegu.

Tibetan monks continue to take a lead role in the relief effort, helping to clear debris and distribute food.

Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Yushu in Qinghai Province Sunday to inspect the recovery efforts. The president said the Chinese government is doing everything it can to help the people of the remote, ethnic Tibetan region.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that by Tuesday, more than 150 countries, international and regional organizations have extended their consolation to the Chinese government and people. "We sincerely appreciate the attention and support."

Jiang said Japan, South Korea, France, the United States and Norway have provided $3.2 million of assistance and donations.

Jiang did not directly answer questions about whether China would allow the Dalai Lama to visit the quake-hit area, saying only that relief efforts were "in good order" and that "the local people's religious beliefs and customs are well-respected."

The exiled spiritual leader had said Saturday he'd like to visit the quake site. China is unlikely to allow a visit.

The Chinese government has poured in aid to Tibet and surrounding regions, such as Qinghai, where residents have frequently chafed under Chinese rule.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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