Sunday evening the mood on Chinese TV changed significantly, quiet classical music, speakers addressed an audience, many of them sobbing. It seemed the people were being prepared for the sad truth that for the victims buried in the rubble, there was little hope.
On Monday May 19th at 14:28, exactly a week after the Wenchuan earthquake, sirens announced a three minute nationwide silence. We had just stepped off the bus in Kunming when we witnessed this very touching moment. People stood still with their heads lowered, often the entire staff of a shop lined up outside in the streets. The intersections were blocked for traffic and drivers blew their horns. It was their way to honor the victims, which to us was a bit of a contradiction to the silence all around.
The reports on TV now concentrate on rebuilding, healing and prevention. For the first time it shows images that clearly, but delicately indicate that the person carried away is not alive. Temporary housing is being built, psychologists are sent into the area and prevention is being discussed.
We have said it before and say it again: it is so impressive to watch how the whole country sticks together, works together and shows their support for the many victims. As of today, the authorities estimate that 71.000 people were killed, 220.000 injured and 5 million have lost their homes. Neither of us has ever been so close to a disaster of this dimension and it makes a difference about how you feel, that is for sure!