Silence in New Zealand, for the dead

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Eyes closed and tears shed, citizens in the earthquake-hit Christchurch, joined by all New Zealanders, mourned with two minutes' silence on Tuesday for the dead in the devastating disaster a week ago.

Outside the partly-damaged Arts Centre, downtown, one of the hardest-hit regions, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and other officials, together with rescue workers and citizens, observed the silence starting from 12: 51 p.m., the time a strong earthquake rocked the city last Tuesday, during which sobs and moans were heard from time to time.

Mourning could remind people, who were busying rescuing and cleaning up in the past few days, of what had happened seven days ago, and commemorate the victims, said Parker.

On Feb. 22, a 6.3-magnitude quake jolt Christchurch, which was also known as "the city of garden", laying waste to the central area and several suburbs and leaving at least 154 people dead.

After the mourning, Shanea Waitoa, a singer from local tribe Ngai Tahu, chanted for the dead, whose voice was joined by the crowds.

"The singing is basically another way of loving vibration to mother earth, and to those who have gone," said Shanea Waitoa later to Xinhua.

The silence was also observed in Wellington's Civic Square. The public gathered at the square to observe the silence in support of the people of Christchurch.

Pain and sorrow were spread around the country. Church bells tolled throughout New Zealand, where flags flew half-way, to mark the national commemoration.

"I see my city through my tears," said Rom Elliott, an senior citizen in Christchurch who attended the ceremony at the Arts Center.

"But hope is still there. We will go on, and we will recover," said Elliott, with tears still hanging on his face.

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