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Memorial service held for Tibet landslide victims

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-04 22:25

LHASA - A memorial ceremony was held for the victims in the March 29 landslide in southwest China's Tibet autonomous region on Thursday, as rescuers continued their search for the remaining missing amid snowy weather.

A monument, which is made of grey granite and about two meters high, was erected on an open land of Serbo Village, some six to seven kilometers from the site of the landslide which buried 83 mine workers in Maizhokunggar county, about 68 km from regional capital Lhasa.

Meters behind the monument was a long black banner hanging high with both Chinese and Tibetan characters in white color, reading "deeply mourning" the dead in the disaster.

Chen Quanguo, Communist Party chief of Tibet and other top regional officials, stood in silent tribute, made bows and offered chrysanthemum flowers at the monument.

"Take care" and "live on for a good life," Chen told more than 10 relatives while shaking hands with each of them.

Thursday marked the seventh day of the landslide, which occurred on the early morning of March 29 when an estimated 2 million cubic meters of mud, rocks and debris swept through workers' camps of the Jiama Copper Polymetallic Mine. The mine is run by Tibet Huatailong Mining Development Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of the country's largest gold producer, China National Gold Group Corporation.

According to Chinese tradition, the seventh day after the death of a person is an important memorial occasion for his or her relatives.

China's Tomb-Sweeping Day, also known as the Qingming Festival, also fell on Thursday this year. On this day, family members tend to the graves of their loved ones by leaving food and liquor at their burial sites, as well as by burning fake money as a form of offering.

Several hundred people, including rescuers and local people, were present at the ceremony. Looking sad, they lined up to offer flowers or hada, a strip of raw silk and linen for good blessing, in front of the monument.

"I have many words I want to say to my mother," said tearful Yan Zhanbing, a young man whose mother Huang Tianxiu was among the 83 miners.

Yan is a native of Wuji County, north China's Hebei Province. He said his father will arrive in Lhasa on Friday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, rescuers had pulled 66 bodies out of the debris. Seventeen others remain buried.

The names, genders and registered permanent addresses of all 83 victims were released by the rescue headquarters on Wednesday. Of the 83, only four were females,including Yan's mother. They were mainly from northeastern Jilin Province, northwestern Shaanxi Province, southwestern Sichuan and Guizhou provinces.Chinese leaders ordered all-out rescue efforts after the accident. Several thousand people have joined the rescue efforts, despite the bitterly cold weather, an altitude of 4,600 meters above sea level and threats of further landslides.

The identification of the retrieved bodies is under way. The cause of the landslide is still being investigated.

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