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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."

CAPTION(S):

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
Words:357
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