Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 18:51 UK

China's silent tribute for victims

A crowd observes the three-minute silence
Mourning crowds in Wangfujing, Beijing. Photo: Andrew Lih
Millions of people across China observed a three-minute silence to mourn the victims of the Sichuan earthquake, exactly a week after it struck.

Air-raid sirens sounded and motorists blew their horns as much of the country came to a standstill.

Readers in China have been sending their thoughts to the BBC website:

Andy Gray, Shenzhen
The afternoon sky was heavy and grey and the rain came down hard, prompting people to believe that tears were falling from heaven. I was in the dental hospital at this time in the afternoon, situated in downtown Shenzhen's Di Wang Commercial Centre. A message came through the PA system for the whole building in Chinese and then English warning that the time to stop work was approaching. I got out of the dentist chair and went back to reception to find my wife, Li Ming. At that moment the "quiet" time began, sirens burst into life, car horns blared, joined by horns from the ships, everybody was standing with heads bowed. In the office people were crying. Li Ming was shaking and I was fighting back the tears. It was so moving for us.

Bao Lan, Shanxi

I felt the earthquake that day. It was so horrible. The quake lasted almost one minute, and I knew there must be an earthquake somewhere. I participated in the three-minute silence today. I almost cried. It is a disaster. I don't want to hear any sad news about it.

Jessica, Beijing

Here in the Wudaokou District of Beijing, traffic stopped and indeed the honking continued for three minutes. Intermittent sirens wailed. From my seventh storey view, I could see the streets and sidewalks come to a standstill. It is perhaps symbolic of having our hands tied, not being able to physically help, but the mourning is loud and clear. And then life resumes, as it must - because it is exactly for this reason that we now mourn.

Shangguan Yuan, Chengdu

I'm a university student in Chengdu, which is 90km from the epicentre. There are still aftershocks, even 30 minutes ago. In the past week, lots of people here tried their best to help those victims. They donate money, food, drinks, even blood, whatever can be useful to those victims. There are traffic jams because too many people want to donate blood to the injured. Today is the mourning day in China - we have shown our respect to the lost lives. I know it is the saddest time for Chinese right now, but I'm sure all Chinese will unite. We are going to overcome all the troubles, and we are going to hold a great Olympic Games. Thanks for all the help from foreign friends. We Chinese appreciate it very much.

Bingo Yang, Beijing

I participated in the three-minute silence. I cried again. The last time I cried was when I was 12-years-old. I had thought I could not cry again until recently.

Ivy, Jilin Province

I participated in the three-minute silence at 14:28 this afternoon. I'm a teacher. At that time I was in class. My students and I stood still, mourning the earthquake victims. I heard nothing but air-raid sirens and car horns wailing, tears in my eyes. I felt I love our country and our people more than any other time. I believe that our Chinese can overcome any difficulties. I also hope that reports abroad can respect the great effort that our government and people have done.

Amy Loveday-Hu, Beijing

As the nation embarked upon filling these three minutes with their thoughts, grief and hope for the people of Sichuan, a wave of vehicle horns and emergency alarms pierced the air. Initially, I confess I was confused, expecting the three minutes of silence to be, well, silent. But quickly I came to understand and joined with the grief of a nation. Listening to the cries of alarms and car horns, watching the stillness of the roads and the bowed heads and tears of the people, an overwhelming sadness felt by the people of China rang in my ears and filled my heart to overflowing. No sound in this world could possibly be loud enough to express this grief and no silence could ever have been so incredibly powerful.


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