BEICHUAN, China - State leaders laid flowers and survivors burned paper money for departed spirits as a mournful China marked the first anniversary Tuesday of a devastating earthquake that left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing and 5 million homeless.
"The great task of earthquake rescue and recovery reminds us again that unity is strength, that victory can only be gained through struggle," said Hu, before leading military and civilian leaders, diplomats, students and emergency services workers in laying carnations before a stone memorial.
The solemn event was broadcast live on national television, underscoring the disaster's searing effect on the national consciousness.
In the nearby county seat of Beichuan, mourners gathered at a destroyed middle school where about 1,000 students and faculty were killed, piling flowers and burning candles and sticks of incense amid the smoke and crackle of exploding firecrackers. Many brought pictures of their dead children and pasted notes to a metal fence surrounding the rubble, including one reading "peace to the dead, strength to the living."