Olympic Torch Relay to Resume After Mourning Period for Earthquake Victims

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The Olympic torch resumes its journey through China on Thursday after a three-day period of national mourning for victims of the country's devastating earthquake.

The torch relay will resume at a container port in eastern China's seaport city of Ningbo, traveling through the city and across the Hangzhou Bay bridge to Jiaxing. Later Thursday it was to be moved by vehicle to the country's commercial center of Shanghai.

So far, the torch has had a smooth relay in mainland China, uninterrupted by the protests over Tibet and human rights that dogged parts of its international tour.

But organizers scaled down the celebratory, triumphant tone of the relay after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck central China on May 12, flattening entire communities.

The torch relay last stopped in Hangzhou, a scenic city to the west of Ningbo. Organizers combined two days of events in Ningbo and Jiaxing, saving one day, but it was unclear exactly how its route through the rest of China will be adjusted to make up for the delay this week.

China's leadership has sought to use the Olympics, which begin Aug. 8 in Beijing, to showcase the country's achievements and rally national unity. The torch relay, which has traveled to all corners of the globe and to the top of Mount Everest, has played a crucial role in the buildup to the Games.

Organizers initially resisted changes in the relay, which corporate sponsors have paid millions of dollars to fund.

But public pressure for a moratorium on the event, mainly seen on Chinese-language Web sites and blogs, prompted organizers to adjust details of the relay. Some legs of the run were shortened and donations for victims have been collected along the way.

The torch was to remain in Shanghai on Friday and Saturday, and then travel on to neighboring Jiangsu province. It is due to arrive June 13 in the sprawling Yangtze-river city of Chongqing and enter neighboring Sichuan province, site of the quake's epicenter, two days later.

The torch returns to Beijing on Aug. 6, two days before the opening ceremonies.

During the three-day national mourning period, flags were flying at half-staff and entertainment events were canceled. Television networks were running only news programs.