China Mourns the Third Boston Bombing Victim, Now a Mystery in All but Name

Alexander Abad-Santos
The Atlantic Wire
China Mourns the Third Boston Bombing Victim, Now a Mystery in All but Name

After tragic confusion in an already tragic aftermath for Boston and its victims' families, the third person killed by the Boston bombings was identified overnight in China as Lu Lingzi, a Chinese Boston University graduate student — but not the one falsely identified by American media. While the girl's family has asked the Chinese consulate in New York as well as Lu's school and investigators not to name her here in the U.S., a massive outpouring of mourning has already begun in China. And as the Associated Press explains, major Chinese media reports are sending word directly from Lu's family:

The Shenyang Evening News said on its official Twitter-like microblog account that the victim's name is Lu Lingzi. An editor at the newspaper said that Lu's father confirmed his daughter's death when reporters visited the family home.

Even though the consulate and the Chinese Foreign Ministry have not publicly named Lu, her account on Weibo (China's version of Twitter) has "attracted more than 10,000 messages, mostly of condolence, in the hours after Chinese media widely reported her death," The New York Times's Charles Buckley reports

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All across social media, Lu's Facebook account photos and messages of condolence are spreading from the East and worldwide, after the first two victims — 8-year-old Martin Richard and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell — were identified by authorities in Boston on Tuesday. Respecting her family's wishes that they and Lu's friends not be contacted by outside media despite her name having surfaced, news outlets in the U.S. spent the early hours putting together a kind of Internet-sourced obituary from halfway across the world. Even the Times sourced LinkedIn:

She went to high school in Shenyang in northeast China, a cradle of state-driven industrialization that fell on hard times in the 1990s, and then studied international trade at the Beijing Institute of Technology, and statistics at Boston University, according to her resume on LinkedIn, a social networking Web site ...

The New York Daily News checked in via Facebook:

Lu graduated from a Shenyang high school and studied international trade at Beijing Institute of Technology before she went to the United States to study statistics as a graduate student at Boston University, according to media reports, Lu’s friends and her own Facebook page.

But there may end up being no complete picture of this students in her mid-20s, as her family has expressed wishes for no personal details to be disclosed. And while a blurry picture has emerged as a city, nation, and world continue to grieve today, those wishes were more or less completely ignored Tuesday night in a frenzy of misreporting.

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Hours after Campbell's family thought they were going to see their daughter coming out of surgery only to find her among the dead, FBI special agent in charge of the Boston investigation Richard DesLauriers said at a press conference that "There is not enough work done to make a notification for the next of kin for the third victim." Shortly thereafter, BU posted an announcement on its website that one of its graduate students was the third victim but that her "has not been released, pending permission to do so from the family." But multiple outlets like the Huffington Post reported in the minutes afterward, falsely, the name of a different Chinese graduate student at BU they said had died. That student did not, but Lu was not the only Chinese student injured in the blast. "Chinese leaders and the government are very concerned about the tragic death of a Chinese student and the severe injury of another in the Boston Marathon bombing case on April 15th," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying told reporters on Wednesday, adding that the surviving student is in stable condition.

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Meanwhile, China mourned and vigils continued for the American victims as hospitals in Boston continued to treat the injured — the number of critically injured patients seemed to be on the decline — and President Obama prepared to speak at an interfaith memorial on Thursday.