China Begins Three-Day National Mourning Period

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May 19 – China began a three-day national mourning period today with flags at half-mast and all cultural and entertainment activities suspended. Authorities have also decided to momentarily halt the relay of the Olympic torch to honor the dead.

The mourning period affects all cinemas, performance halls, dance halls, karaoke bars, amusement parks, online gaming parlors, sports venues and other similar establishments.

“At 2:28 pm Monday, Chinese citizens nationwide will observe three minutes of silence to mourn quake victims, while air raid sirens and horns of cars, trains and ships will wail in grief,” said Xinhua.

The country’s two stock exchanges – the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchange – will suspend trading in the afternoon today during the three minute silence. Overall, the three-day mourning period is not expected to hamper general business operations.

It has been one week since a major earthquake struck southwest China killing 32,477, and injuring 220,109. According to sources, the earthquake destroyed more than 4.7 million houses in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. Authorities estimate that around 9,500 people remain buried under rubble.

Government relief efforts have now shifted to addressing food and shelter issues for the estimated 10 million refugees left by the quake for the next three months.