Fears of New Quake Scare Chengdu : Chengdu Diary Rumors Stir Chengdu Night
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Fears of New Quake Scare Chengdu

crowd mourns
Photo by Andrea Hsu, NPR

Earlier this evening, a couple of us wandered out to Tianfu Square, where the singing and chanting that began this afternoon was still going strong.

heart of candles
Photo by Andrea Hsu, NPR
Photo by Andrea Hsu, NPR

Crowds of mostly young people remained in the square, chanting "Go China! Sichuan! Stand up! Be strong!" They lit candles, sang the national anthem, and gathered around to sign a long white banner that read "Loved ones of the disaster area, safe journey."

Today was the first of three days of mourning for the victims of the May 12 earthquake. I imagine that this outpouring of emotion will continue well beyond this week.

When I left for Tianfu Square about 10:30 pm, the streets were dark and nearly silent. 45 minutes later, on my way back to the hotel, I saw lots and lots of people streaming out into the streets and towards the soccer stadium, which is right next to our hotel. They were carrying blankets, pillows, tents and umbrellas.

Turns out state media interrupted programming this evening to warn of a powerful aftershock that could come tonight or tomorrow. Whole families emerged from their homes, with enough belongings to sleep outdoors for the night.

Our reporter Louisa Lim was out elsewhere in the city and told us the roads were jammed and thousands of people were out in the streets.

people camping
Photo by Andrea Hsu, NPR

Meanwhile, NPR's Science Desk was reassuring us that there is absolutely no way that such a prediction could be made.

And sure enough, just now, as I sat watching TV in the lobby of our hotel, someone turned up the radio on a new announcement: no severe aftershock for Chengdu after all tonight — everyone go home.

My colleagues are out right now trying to make sense of what happened this evening. Whatever the case, I'm sure it's done nothing to calm the jitteriness that has engulfed this city.