China Begins Mourning Period for Quake Victims

People hold hands as the alarm sounds at 2:28, the moment when the earthquake struck. i i

hide captionPeople hold hands as an alarm marks 2:28 p.m., the moment last Monday when the earthquake struck southwestern regions, in Chengdu's Tianfu Square.

China Photos/Getty Images
People hold hands as the alarm sounds at 2:28, the moment when the earthquake struck.

People hold hands as an alarm marks 2:28 p.m., the moment last Monday when the earthquake struck southwestern regions, in Chengdu's Tianfu Square.

China Photos/Getty Images

China began three days of national mourning Monday for the tens of thousands of people killed in last week's 7.9-magnitude earthquake. Meanwhile, state media reported that 200 rescue workers were buried in a landslide triggered by aftershocks.

The moment of silence began at 2:28 p.m., the time at which the quake struck Sichuan province and surrounding areas a week ago. In the mourning period that follows, all entertainments will cease and the stock market will not open. The Olympic torch relay to Beijing is also being suspended.

The mourning begins as 5 million people are still living in tents or looking for shelter, displaced by the earthquake's devastation.

Search parties are still looking for both survivors and victims. In hard-hit, hilly Beichuan county, aftershocks prompted a landslide that trapped rescue workers over the past three days, according to China's state media.

The Chinese government has announced that families of victims will receive compensation payments, in addition to stipends and grain rations for survivors of the deadly earthquake.

Chinese media outlets have been covering the earthquake with a new freedom, an allowance by the central government that has been credited with easing panic and rumors surrounding the catastrophe.

But on the Internet and in private conversations, some Chinese citizens ask pointed questions, wondering why the soldiers couldn't reach affected areas more quickly and why school buildings were built so poorly that they collapsed.

The death toll, now estimated at more than 30,000 people, is expected to rise. Some 100,000 soldiers have been deployed to aid in rescue and recovery operations.

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