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China announces three-day mourning for quake victims, suspension of torch relay
    BEIJING, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Flags are to be kept at half-mast and all public amusements will be suspended for three days from Monday as China begins an official mourning period for victims of the May 12 earthquake.

    The State Council, the Cabinet, on Sunday ordered a nationwide display of respect for the dead. The Olympic torch relay will also be suspended from Monday to Wednesday, the Olympic organizing committee said.

    China's diplomatic missions abroad were also ordered to observe the order, and condolence books are to be opened in the Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassies and consulates around the world.

    The public are asked to stand in silence for three minutes from 2:28 p.m. on Monday, while automobiles, trains, and ships would sound their air sirens.

    The order was issued in a brief circular that contained no further details.


    The Beijing Olympic torch relay Ningbo Organizing Committee also announced Sunday that the torch relay would be put off for three days until May 22.

    Lao Jinlong, vice president of the Ningbo Municipal Sports Bureau in east China's Zhejiang Province, said "All the public entertainment activities will be cancelled during the three days of mourning, including the torch relay."

    The Ningbo leg is the fourth leg of the torch relay in Zhejiang province.

    The death toll from the powerful earthquake rose to 32,477 nationwide as of 2 p.m. on Sunday, while the number of injured reached 220,109, according to the emergency response office under the State Council.   

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