21 Apr 2010

China holds day of mourning for quake victims

8:56 pm on 21 April 2010

China is holding a national day of mourning for victims of the powerful earthquake in Qinghai province.

Flags are flying at half mast across the country on Wednesday and public entertainment curtailed as a mark of respect, one week after the quake hit.

The official death toll from the 6.9-magnitude tremor has now reached 2,039, the BBC reports.

Tens of thousands of people have been left homeless by the quake but relief supplies are now pouring into worst hit area, the town of Jiegu.

Another 175 people are still missing after the quake and more than 12,000 are injured, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Public entertainment, including some television channels, has been suspended nationwide: cinemas, karaoke bars and internet cafes are closed.

The 24-hour ban extends online, with music and film websites suspended, the BBC reports. The biggest websites and newspaper mastheads have turned black or grey for the day.

Near the quake's epicentre, at the town of Jiegu, the relief effort continues with Buddhist monks and nuns working alongside the army and other rescue workers. Ninety-seven percent of Yushu's population is ethnic Tibetan.

Some reports said officials had begun telling monks to leave the quake area and leave rescue work to the government.