China Begins Three-Day Mourning Period A week after an earthquake struck China's Sichuan province, the nation begins a period of mourning for the victims of the natural disaster.
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China Begins Three-Day Mourning Period

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China Begins Three-Day Mourning Period

China Begins Three-Day Mourning Period

China Begins Three-Day Mourning Period

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A week after an earthquake struck China's Sichuan province, the nation begins a period of mourning for the victims of the natural disaster.

(Soundbite of siren)

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

All across China today, sirens and horns sounded for three minutes to mark the earthquake that hit one week ago today.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, reporting from Chengdu, China, all this week, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

BLOCK: And I'm Melissa Block.

May 12th, 5:12, it's now China's 9/11. Starting at 2:28 this afternoon, the time the earthquake struck, crowds stood silently as sirens wailed and horns blared in tribute to the estimated 50,000 dead.

SIEGEL: Melissa and I were among thousands of people gathered in Tianfu Square in Chengdu, the provincial capital Sichuan. Rows of people as far as the eye could see joined hands and raised them in the air as they bowed their heads. Most had white paper flowers pinned to their shirts or tied to their wrists, symbols of mourning.

BLOCK: When the sirens stopped, an entirely different cacophony began. First, wails of grief.

(Soundbite of crying)

BLOCK: Then chants: stand up, be strong.

(Soundbite of chanting)

BLOCK: The three minutes of silence have turned into many, many minutes of raucous cheers and chanting.

(Soundbite of chanting)

SIEGEL: It's interesting. It's not - it's certainly not a celebration. It's not a protest…

BLOCK: But it's rallying, a patriotic rally.

SIEGEL: It's a statement of common purpose and obviously great sorrow. And so many of the people you and I are looking at right now, Melissa, are weeping as they're chanting.

BLOCK: And now the chant has turned into go, China go, China go, China go.

(Soundbite of chanting)

SIEGEL: Starting today, China began three days of national mourning ordered by the government. It's the most extensive such public mourning since the death of former communist party leader Deng Xiaoping 11 years ago.

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