China announced a national day of mourning to be held on Wednesday for victims of a devastating quake in a remote Tibetan region, as the death toll rose above 2,000.
National flags will fly at half-staff across the country and at its embassies and consulates overseas, marking one week since the earthquake hit, China’s Cabinet announced on Tuesday. All public entertainment will be suspended as well.
The death toll in remote Yushu county in western Qinghai province, high on the Tibetan plateau, rose to 2,046, while more than 12,000 people were hurt, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. An additional 196 people remain missing.
Relief efforts could be hindered by rain that was expected Tuesday on the high-altitude region. Sleet, wind, and light snow are forecast for the next three days, said Guo Yinxiang, spokeswoman for the Qinghai Meteorological Bureau.
Snow and ice on Highway 214, the main roadway to the disaster area, was already causing some minor delays as aid—laden trucks slowed to a crawl or got stuck on the icy, winding mountain passes.
Three people were rescued Monday, including a four-year-old girl and an elderly woman who survived under the rubble for almost a week in China because relatives used bamboo poles to push water and rice to them until rescuers pulled them out.
The rescue of Wujian Cuomao, 68, and Cairen Baji, 4, from a crumbled home in a village about 13 miles (20 kilometers) from the hardest-hit town of Jiegu was hailed by state media as a miracle and repeatedly played on television news broadcasts.
Relief workers also freed a Tibetan woman named Ritu from the rubble of a hillside house, state broadcaster China Central Television reported. Half her body had been trapped by the debris, the report said, but her vital signs were stable.
In Jiegu, thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks picked at rubble with shovels, performed funeral rites and distributed food to survivors.
Power and telecommunications services had largely been restored and aid convoys continued to stream in.
So many military supply trucks were coming into Jiegu, they ended up backed up for miles (kilometers) on the main road heading into town. At a supply depot set up on the town’s edge, huge stacks of bottled water were piled up outside a warehouse.
The Chinese government has poured in aid to the remote Tibetan region, where residents have frequently chafed under Chinese rule. Tibetan anger over political and religious restrictions and perceived economic exploitation by the majority Han Chinese has sometimes erupted in violence.
By China’s measure the quake was a magnitude 7.1, while the U.S. Geological Survey put it at 6.9.