Silence observed for victims of Yunnan earthquake

Three minutes silence observed as province comes to standstill to mourn those killed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 5:27am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 5:27am

Yunnan province observed a three-minute silence yesterday morning to remember those lost in the devastating earthquake in Ludian county.

Work stopped and people bowed their heads in public places across the province as air-raid sirens and car and truck horns sounded at 10am.

The magnitude-6.5 earthquake killed 617 people and injured more than 3,000 others, according to the authorities. More than 110 people are still missing.

Power and water supplies have been restored in most quake-affected areas, but people are still facing threats including landslides, barrier lakes formed by blocked rivers and the potential spread of disease.

According to Chinese tradition, the seventh day after death should be marked with mourning. Some residents in the disaster area observed Saturday as the seventh day, and more than 1,000 people gathered in Culture Square in Ludian that night, holding up candles to commemorate the victims.

In Longtoushan town, the epicentre of the earthquake, people also observed traditional rites such as burning paper money.

Villagers told the South China Morning Post they had enough water and food, but transportation remained difficult.

Yu Caijing, a 28-year-old man from Luomakou village, said he and about 50 other villagers were using their motorcycles to give free rides across town to those in need.

"My own family's matters have almost been settled. Although I don't know how to rescue those buried, I can at least do something to help the living," he said.

Yu lost his three-year-old daughter in the quake.

The Highway Monitoring and Response Centre at the Ministry of Transport said the earthquake had damaged over 140km of roads and led to the collapse of more than 7,000 roads.

Meteorologists forecast torrential rain in the quake-affected area today and tomorrow and on the upper reaches of the Niulan River, where landslides have formed a barrier lake near Hongshiyan village.

The rain is expected to raise the water level of the lake and might trigger landslides and floods, the provincial meteorological station said.

All residents living in dangerous areas downstream of the lake had been evacuated from their homes by Saturday, Xinhua reported.

Workers have used dynamite in a bid to create channels to drain the water from the lake.

Xiao Taiqiao, a 38-year-old woman in Babao village, has an elder brother who is missing and her younger one was seriously injured after he was hit by falling rocks during the earthquake.

They were among a dozen villagers who were on a hill fixing the village's tap water pipe when the earthquake struck.

"They gave up searching [for my elder brother] yesterday, and my little brother is still in a coma in hospital," she said.

"There are very kind volunteers sending us food and water every day. We now have meat and vegetables."

She said she was concerned about the threat of disease and illness after the disaster.

There have been reports of cases of diarrhoea, she said.

Zhao Shiwen, the deputy director of Yunnan's disease control centre, was quoted by China National Radio as saying that cases of fever and diarrhoea had been identified and the authorities were closely monitoring the situation. "The possibility of an epidemic has been excluded," he said. Health conditions in the area were steady and in good order, he added.

Every village in Longtoushan has five or six people in charge of disease control, responsible for collecting information on illnesses and tracking the health of patients, he said.

Experts have also warned against the outbreak of tuberculosis, given that Ludian is listed as one area in the province where it frequently occurs.