Crowds gathered in devastated Lushan county yesterday as a day of mourning was held across Sichuan province for those killed in the last weekend's magnitude 7 earthquake.
At 8.02am, the precise moment the quake struck a week earlier, work stopped and people bowed their heads across Lushan, the quake's epicentre, to observe three minutes of silence as air-raid sirens and the horns of cars and trucks sounded.
Local residents, soldiers and volunteers came to a standstill on streets in Lushan town. Parents held their children, and some people wept. At the sites of collapsed buildings, hundreds of soldiers and rescue workers lined up in formation, holding their helmets with heads bowed.
The quake killed at least 196 people and injured 13,484; another 21 people are missing.
"I feel shocked and lost that so many people have died," said 36-year-old housewife Li Jinqiu, wiping away tears.
"I told my daughter that we should keep all the victims and those who helped us in our hearts."
Yang Yuting hoped the government would help residents return to normal life as soon as possible.
"The earthquake really changed my life, and it allowed me to look forward and reminded me to live in the present."
Tens of thousands of people who evacuated their homes are being accommodated in tents.
Power and water have been restored in the main centres of the disaster zone, and students returned to school for the first time since the earthquake. But most stores and restaurants have remained closed.
In rural Taiping township, about 30 kilometres from the quake's epicentre, soldiers continued to search for victims among shattered houses. A soldier stationed in the provincial capital, Chengdu , who declined to be named, said there was little chance of finding anyone alive. "But at least if we can find the bodies of victims, their relatives will be able to say goodbye."
Meanwhile, in Chengdu, the city government said yesterday that a 33-year-old woman was arrested for posting messages online calling people to stage a protest. The government statement did not mention what the protest was about, but said the woman's posts threatened to disrupt public order and quake relief operations.
View larger map Yaan Earthquake and SCMP coverage