Dear Council Members, Colleagues, Alumni and Students,
A time to mourn
Over the past week all of us have been struck dumb with horror and grief by the immense loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan. The catastrophe has to date claimed over 30,000 lives. Over 220,000 have been injured. Millions are awaiting disaster relief. The China Earthquake Administration has revised the magnitude of the earthquake to 8.0 on the Richter scale. The extent of the devastation has surpassed that of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake.
We share the sorrow and grief of our mainland compatriots. At the same time we are heartened by the tremendous outpour of sympathy, help and support for the victims from people all over the country. Massive rescue and disaster relief efforts have been conducted efficiently. Tens of thousands have responded to calls for donations to help the survivors. The response to the University’s fund-raising campaign for relief has been most encouraging. Let me remind you once again that the University has set up an earthquake relief fund account at the Hang Seng Bank (account number 293-005005-022). Please give generously.
The State Council announced yesterday that the country would observe three days of mourning from 19 to 21 May. Flags of all PRC government organizations on the mainland and overseas will be flying at half-mast. At 14:28 today, the exact time when the earthquake struck a week ago, a three-minute silence was observed across the nation. Many members of the University halted their activities in remembrance of the earthquake victims. Throughout these three days, all major university ceremonies and activities will also be preceded by a mourning vigil. To be respectful of the dead and as a gesture of support for the survivors, let us be plain in speech and attire during the mourning period.
Rescue efforts are continuing. Reconstruction will be a long journey. I believe that like millions of Chinese all over the world, members of the University will continue to offer their spiritual and material support to the victims of the earthquake. Let us turn our grief into strength, to help all those who are in need of our help.
Lawrence J. Lau
President and Vice-Chancellor
19 May 2008