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Britons tell of escapes as silence marks mourning.

Members of the UK Chinese community yesterday observed a three-minute silence as a period of mourning began to mark the devastating Chinese earthquake.

The Chinese embassy in London was opening a book of condolences as Chinese government buildings flew the flag at half-mast.

Ping Hayward, director of the London Chinatown Chinese Community Centre, said a fund-raising event in the capital yesterday had raised pounds 70,000 for relief efforts.

She said: "Our people are suffering in mainland China and the Chinese people feel they should make a contribution to support them.

"Schools have been destroyed and there are a lot of homeless.

"There are children buried under school buildings. It is awful."

The Chinese Embassy in London has listed urgently-needed relief equipment, including X-ray machines, optical search devices and circular saws, as well as water purifiers, stretchers, tents and wheelchairs.

British tourists on a panda-watching trip at the Wolong Nature Reserve, in Wenchuan county, when the earthquake struck have themselves been thanking the Chinese people.

Judy Ling Wong, 59, told the China Daily: "We were in the middle of the panda centre, surrounded by cliffs.

"Rocks fell all around. But here I am, completely fine - and that is only half the miracle.

"The other half is the Chinese people and the way they took care of us."

Ms Wong, a director of the Black Environment Network, from Llanberis, North Wales, who was awarded a CBE last year for services to heritage, praised local people for sharing the little food they had. The 19 British tourists spent three nights on a bus, unable to contact the outside world, before being evacuated to Chengdu by Chinese military helicopter.

Penelope Edwards, another of the holidaymakers, told the newspaper: "I was so cold on the second night when it was raining and someone gave me some dumplings with sesame fillings.

"It made such difference. They were smiling at us and I felt so warm.

"I met a group of Tibetan students and they invited me to eat and sing."


Chinese rescuers hold three minutes of silence near the rubble of collapsed buildings as they pay tribute to earthquake victims
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 20, 2008
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