Taxi drivers leaned against their cars chatting as they waited for passengers on a square near the town's pivotal bus station. Diners enjoyed snacks at food stalls and a few young men were playing billiards nearby.
Thirty hours after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake rocked this small town in Haixi prefecture, northwest China's Qinghai Province, Zhang Haoxiang said he saw little change in life. "Except that my son is not going to school," he said.
The Da Qaidam Central School where his son Zhang Shou studies was empty Tuesday. There was no apparent signs of damage to its classroom buildings but school worker Zhu Yuyin said he saw a few cracks inside the dormitory building.
"When the quake hit, we dashed out of the classroom. No one was injured as far as I know," said the 13-year-old.
The People's Hospital, the leading hospital in town, confirmed it received no casualties.
Schools in Da Qaidam and the neighboring cities of Delinha and Golmud were closed Monday afternoon for safety considerations. It's still unknown when the students would get back to class.
Zhang's house in Da Qaidam town, built with bricks and cement in the 1990s, was unaffected by the quake. But altogether 259 families in town suffered damage to their homes.
The administrative committee of Da Qaidam said at least 500 houses were damaged in the quake, particularly old ones built of adobe before the 1960s.
The committee set up 120 tents Monday night to accommodate people whose houses were destroyed, said the committee's deputy chief Gu Xiaodong. He put the direct economic loss at around 6 million yuan (about 857,000 U.S. dollars).
Ye Jianbin said she was reluctant to move into a tent when her home seemed perfectly safe. "There was only a little crack between two walls. Why do we have to take the trouble to move out?"
Still, she followed the advice of community workers and policemen to spend Monday night in a tent, amid continuous aftershocks and growing concerns over her family's 40-year-old brick house.
As of 3 a.m. Tuesday, the Qinghai provincial seismic network had monitored more than 550 aftershocks, the biggest of which measured 4.4 on the Richter scale.
The earthquake administration has installed two mobile tremor detection devices in the epicenter to ensure 24-hour surveillance.
The quake and aftershocks have caused no fatalities so far, but three miners were injured when they were evacuated from a coal mine 15 km from town. They were immediately sent to a hospital in Haixi prefecture's capital Delinha.