China begins three-day mourning for quake victims, torch relay suspended

May 19th, 2008 - 8:12 am ICT by admin  

Beijing, May 19 (Xinhua) China began Monday a three-day national mourning for the thousands of people who lost their lives in the devastating earthquake that struck the country’s southwest last Monday. At 4:58 a.m., the national flag at the Tian’anmen Square in downtown Beijing flew at half-mast after a complete flag-raising ceremony.

All national flags are to fly at half-mast at home and at Chinese diplomatic missions abroad from Monday to Wednesday. Public recreational activities are halted during the mourning period.

Meanwhile, the torch relay of the Olympic Games has been postponed for three days till Wednesday to mourn for the earthquack victims, organizers of the relay said.

Lao Jinlong, vice president of Ningbo Municipal Sports Bureau, said the torch relay of Ningbo leg has been postponed in line with the State Council’s decision to set May 19 to 21 as the Days of Mourning to memorize the people died in quake.

Zhang Jinsong, a torchbearer, said: “It is a terrible disaster and causes great destruction. I hope the victims of the earthquake can overcome the difficulties and reconstruct their homeland as soon as possible.”

“We want to show our best wishes to the people in the disastrous areas and the Chinese people’s courage to the whole world,” said Yang Lingna, another torchbearer.

The death toll from the massive quake rose to 32,476 nationwide as of 2 p.m. Sunday, while the injured numbered 220,109, according to the emergency response office.

Among the dead, 31,978 were in Sichuan with the rest in six other provinces and a municipality.

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