China Declares Day of Mourning After Earthquake

BEICHUAN, China -- China said it would start three days of national mourning Monday, after raising the death toll from last week's earthquake to nearly 32,500.

More than six days after the 7.9-magnitude quake rattled Sichuan province, rescuers pulled two more people alive from the rubble and desperately tried to reach at least two other known survivors.

Authorities worried by the hundreds of aftershocks and the buildup of water in blocked rivers tried to stop people from entering the affected area.

Xinhua state news agency said the most dangerous mass of water was only about 3 kilometers upstream from Beichuan town, where rescue workers saved a man on Sunday from under the remains of a hospital.

Another man was found alive in a collapsed office building in Maoxian county, Xinhua reported. Rescuers were also trying to reach a man and a woman in Yingxiu town and had dripped glucose and drinking water into the rubble, the agency reported.

Six days after the main quake hit, the overall death toll stands at nearly 32,500, Xinhua said, and 220,000 more injured.

Some 9,500 people are thought to be still buried under the rubble in Sichuan, but most are feared dead.

Offers of help have flooded in and rescue teams with sniffer dogs and specialized equipment from Japan, Russia, Taiwan, South Korea, the United States and Singapore are assisting. Donations from home and abroad have topped 6 billion yuan ($858 million).

Statistics from past earthquakes show that some victims have survived up to nearly a fortnight under rubble.

Yet Fujiya Koji, head of the Japanese rescue team in Sichuan, conceded: "Generally, by this stage the likelihood of survival is low. They say they have been finding some in Beichuan, and we'll certainly keep trying."

President Hu Jintao visited distraught families in Yinghua town and said he shared their pain. "We will make every effort to save your people once there is the slightest hope and possibility," he said, according to Xinhua.

China will observe three days of national mourning from Monday, with flags flying at half-mast, public entertainment suspended and a three-minute silence to mark exactly one week since the quake, the government web site said.

State television said the Olympic torch relay through China would also be suspended for three days.

Early on Sunday, a 5.7-magnitude tremor caused thousands to flee swaying buildings in the provincial capital, Chengdu, some 200 kilometers south of the latest aftershock's epicenter.

Xinhua said there had been no reports of casualties, but roads had been seriously damaged.

The military moved to quell concerns over the safety of its nuclear facilities, including the main nuclear weapons research laboratory, close to the affected zone.

"I could say in a responsible manner that all these facilities are safe and secure," Ma Jian, a senior People's Liberation Army officer, told a news conference in Beijing. "There is no problem at all."

In Beichuan, hard hit by the quake and which many people fled on Saturday following warnings that a dam may collapse, worried relatives quarreled with police who tried to prevent them entering the area, citing safety reasons.

"I've traveled all this way, and I don't know where my father is," said Chen Shiquan, who had come back from work in the neighboring province of Qinghai to look for his father.

"To let me get this far and then not let me in is too cruel," he added.

At least three lakes, formed after rocks blocked a river, had burst their banks but caused no casualties. Officials were monitoring 21 cases where landslides had dammed rivers, Xinhua reported.

Fu Xingyue, looking for his daughter who was supposed to turn six the day after the quake happened, brushed off safety concerns.

"I don't think the dam is a big threat, and anyway, there's nothing I can do. I have to keep searching," said Fu, who works as a truck driver and has spent days desperately searching though rubble and shouting out his daughter's name.

Dozens of schools collapsed in the area, crushing to death thousands of children taking classes at the time. Officials pulled out more bodies from the wreckage of the local primary school in Beichuan on Sunday. Forty-one corpses were laid out in front of the school.

China's Health Ministry said Sunday that there had been no disease outbreaks so far.

China has said it expects the final death toll from the earthquake to exceed 50,000. About 4.8 million people have lost their homes.