04/26/2013, 00.00
CHINA
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Sichuan Earthquake, three minutes of silence for the victims

The province is preparing to honour the people who died in Sunday's earthquake, with vehicles sounding their sirens at 08.02 (when the first quake hit) followed by silence. Entertainment activities in public places will be halted tomorrow. As death toll climbs towards 200, a survivor is pulled after 72 hours. Controversy surrounds the poor quality of collapsed buildings.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Sichuan quake victims will be honoured with all transportation vehicles sounding their sirens at 8:02 am, the exact time when a devastating earthquake hit the province. A silent tribute will follow for three minutes. The provincial government issued a notice that all entertainment activities throughout the province would be halted in public places on Saturday.

The death toll has almost reached 200 and is climbing, with hundreds of people still missing. On Thursday evening, a 78-year-old man was pulled alive from the rubble after five days of agony.

He is in serious but stable conditions and his life does not seem in danger. However, he was the first person to be rescued since the crucial first hours.

Rescue teams have been hampered by blocked roads caused by landslides and traffic congestion in their search for survivors, causing more fatalities.

Housing has been seriously impacted. About 126,000 homes have been destroyed, with hundreds of thousands of people left homeless.

As in 2008, when Sichuan was hit by an earthquake that killed 90,000 people, including many students, the collapse of school buildings has generated serious criticism.

The vice principal of a local school said he was relieved that the quake took place on a Sunday, when the classes were empty. Buildings belonging to a local church, including a seminary in Chengdu, were damaged as well.

Residents want greater housing security. The partial collapse of some buildings has revealed that bricks used in home and school construction were held together by a foam silicate, which, when improperly used, may not withstand tremors.

According to several sources, corruption among local officials has negatively affected construction, costing lives. By contrast, a school rebuilt after the 2008 quake with funds and under the supervision of Hong Kong withstood the quake despite being near the epicentre of the earthquake.

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