Asia-Pacific

China holds day of mourning for Gansu landslide victims

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Media captionMore than 1,000 people are known to have died in the disaster

China is holding a day of mourning for those killed in floods and mudslides, as the death toll rose to 1,239 people.

Public entertainment has been suspended, with cinemas and karaoke bars closed, and government offices and embassies are flying flags at half-mast, state media reported.

Teams are continuing to recover bodies in Gansu province in the wake of Saturday's landslides in Zhouqu county.

Another 505 people remain missing and thousands are in temporary shelters.

Chinese health authorities say hygiene and safety for those left homeless is a priority, as concerns mount over a lack of clean drinking water.

Ahead of the day of mourning the Ministry of Culture issued a circular ruling that films, karaoke and online entertainment be suspended, Xinhua reported.

Shortly after midnight many Chinese websites had changed their front pages to black and white.

On Sunday morning, thousands of people gathered in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to watch China's flag hoisted and then lowered to half mast.

Memorial ceremonies have also been held in Zhouqu itself and in Gansu's provincial capital, Lanzhou.

Threat of more floods

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Beijing says that large scale national mourning like this is rare in China.

There was a day of commemoration in April for the victims of the Yushu earthquake, and two years ago three days of mourning for the victims of the quake in Sichuan.

In Zhouqu, soldiers are trying to remove debris from the Bailing River amid fears that more rain could cause it to overflow, causing more chaos for a town that is already one third underwater.

Heavy rain has been sweeping across central and western China for most of the week, with more rain forecast for Zhouqu county in the next few days.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs says at least 45,000 people have evacuated their homes.

Survivors are now living in tents, which are drenched through, pitched on unstable slopes.

Some cases of dysentery were reported by state media.

The government has brought in mobile water purification units, able to provide clean water for 30,000 people, according to China News Service.

Sichuan province to the south has also been affected, with 38 people still missing, after rains spread, triggering landslides.

According to Xinhua, the heavy rains have affected more than 305 million people across the country and cost $1.7bn (£1.1bn).

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