Tibetans mourned dead relatives yesterday from an earthquake that killed nearly 800 people in remote western China as rescue crews found a handful of survivors, and homeless residents shivered in tents.
The official death toll from the quake that flattened much of the town of Gyegu climbed to 791, though some residents cast doubt on that figure, saying many more had died without being counted. Estimates by non-governmental organizations support a figure of about 1,000 dead.
Survivors of Wednesday’s tremor spent another night huddled under quilts and in tents, while doctors struggled to treat the wounded in a makeshift medical center.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Tibetan Buddhist monks clad in crimson cloaks and jackets joined the rescue effort undertaken by soldiers and rescue teams in distant, windswept Yushu county.
At a foothill under the main monastery of Gyegu, monks had gathered to chant mantras in front of piles of dead. Some helped residents look for kin among what appeared to be hundreds of bodies, collected on a covered platform.
“Many of the bodies you see here don’t have families or their families haven’t come looking for them, so it’s our job to take good care of them,” said Lopu, a monk clad in maroon robes. “I’d say we’ve collected a thousand or more bodies here. Some we found ourselves, some were sent to us.”
Many bodies had already been removed by family members, he said.
Many injured locals spent a cold night in tents or outdoors waiting for medical aid. Harried doctors said they had had almost no sleep over the past two days.
Addressing residents of Gyegu high on the Tibetan plateau late on Thursday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) clambered over rubble and pledged continued rescue efforts.
In remarks translated into Tibetan to a receptive crowd, Wen pledged that rescuers would not give up hope of finding people still trapped under rubble.
However, temperatures well below freezing at night leave little chance of anyone still surviving under collapsed buildings in and around Gyegu, where most of Yushu county’s 100,000 people reside.
Rescuers were still discovering the odd survivor, including a 13-year-old girl buried in a hotel, in images shown live on state television.
A total of 243 people were still listed as missing, and more than 1,000 as “seriously injured.”
“I think [of my mother], but I have to control myself and not cry. I can only pray for her safety [in the afterlife],” said survivor Chenlin Cuoma, 27, sitting in front of a makeshift tent alongside her younger sister. “After having lost her that day, I can only wish she can go to heaven and not think of anything else or have any regrets.”
Some pregnant women were transferred 1,000km to the provincial capital, Xining, after at least two babies were born in tents outside Gyegu’s damaged hospital, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) cut short a summit in Brazil, and cancelled a planned trip to Venezuela and Chile in order to return early to China.
Convoys carrying tents, water, food, blankets and medical equipment continued to roll into Yushu county yesterday. Chinese volunteer organizations and state media launched fund-raising and clothing drives.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent