Persistent heavy rain and landslides in Wenchuan County and the nearby area badly affected rescue efforts. At the start of rescue operations on May 12, 20 helicopters were deployed for the delivery of food, water, and emergency aid, and also the evacuation of the injured and reconnaissance of quake-stricken areas.
Many rescue teams, including that of the Taipei Fire Department from Taiwan, were reported ready to join the rescue effort in Sichuan as early as Wednesday. However, the Red Cross Society of China said that (on May 13) "it was inconvenient currently due to the traffic problem to the hardest-hit areas closest to the epicenter".
Beijing accepted the aid of the Tzu Chi Foundation from Taiwan late on May 13. Tzu Chi was the first force from outside the People's Republic of China to join the rescue effort.
By May 14, the Ministry of Civil Affairs stated that 10.7 billion yuan (approximately US$1.5 billion at that time) had been donated by the Chinese public.
On the afternoon of May 14, 15 Special Operations Troops, along with relief supplies and communications gear, parachuted into inaccessible Mao County, northeast of Wenchuan.
By May 15, Premier Wen Jiabao ordered the deployment of an additional 90 helicopters, of which 60 were to be provided by the PLAAF, and 30 were to be provided by the civil aviation industry, bringing the total number of aircraft deployed in relief operations by the air force, army, and civil aviation to over 150, resulting in the largest non-combat airlifting operation in People's Liberation Army history.
On May 16, China stated it had also received $457 million in donated money and goods for rescue efforts so far, including $83 million from 19 countries and four international organizations. Saudi Arabia was the largest aid donor to China, providing close to €40,000,000 in financial assistance, and an additional €8,000,000 worth of relief materials.
On the evening of May 18, CCTV-1 hosted a special four-hour program called The Giving of Love, hosted by regulars from the CCTV New Year's Gala and round-the-clock coverage anchor Bai Yansong. It was attended by a wide range of entertainment, literary, business, and political figures from mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Donations of the evening totaled 1.5 billion Chinese Yuan (~US$208 million). Of the donations, CCTV gave the biggest corporate contribution at ¥50 million.
The State Council declared a three-day period of national mourning for the quake victims starting from May 19, 2008; the PRC's National Flag and Regional Flags of Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions flown at half-mast. It was the first time that a national mourning period had been declared for something other than the death of a state leader, and many have called it the biggest display of mourning since the death of Mao Zedong.
Strong aftershocks continued to strike even months after the main quake. On May 25, an aftershock of 6.0 Mw (6.4 Ms according to CEA) hit northeast of the original earthquake's epicenter, in Qingchuan County, Sichuan.
As a result of the earthquake and the many strong aftershocks, many rivers became blocked by large landslides, which resulted in the formation of "quake lakes" behind the blockages; these massive amounts of water were pooling up at a very high rate behind the natural landslide dams and it was feared that the blockages would eventually crumble under the weight of the ever-increasing water mass, potentially endangering the lives of millions of people living downstream. As of May 27, 2008, 34 lakes had formed due to earthquake debris blocking and damming rivers, and it was estimated that 28 of them were still of potential danger to the local people. Entire villages had to be evacuated because of the resultant flooding.
On Children's Day, June 1, 2008, many parents went to the rubble of schools to mourn for their children. The surviving children, who were mostly living in relief centers, performed ceremonies marking the special day, but also acknowledging the earthquake.
On June 23, 2008, he was named to the USA Men's Senior National Team for the 2008 Summer Olympics. This was his first time going to the Olympics. Bryant scored 20 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, along with six assists, as Team USA defeated Spain 118–107 in the gold medal game on August 24, 2008, for its first gold medal in a worldwide competition since the 2000 Olympics. He averaged 15.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while shooting .462 from the field in eight Olympic contests.
In the aftermath of the quake, many local governments promised to formally investigate the school collapses, but as of July 17, 2008, across Sichuan, parents of children lost in collapsed schools complained they had yet to receive any reports.
The same area suffered two more aftershocks of 5.6 and 6.0 Ms (5.8 and 5.5 Mw , respectively, according to USGS) on July 23, resulting in 1 death, 6 serious injuries, the collapse of hundreds of homes, and damaging kilometers of highways.
Pingwu County and Beichuan County, Sichuan, also northeast of Wenchuan and close to the epicenter of a 7.2 Ms earthquake in 1976, suffered a 6.1 Ms aftershock (5.7 Mw according to USGS) on August 1; it caused 2 deaths, 345 injuries, the collapse of 707 homes, damage to over 1,000 homes, and blocked 25 kilometers (16 mi) of country roads.
As late as August 5, yet another aftershock of 6.1 Ms (6.2 Mw according to USGS) hit Qingchuan, Sichuan, causing 1 death, 32 injuries, telecommunication interruptions, and widespread hill slides blocking roads in the area including a national highway.
Football at the 2008 Summer Olympics was held in Beijing and several other cities in the People's Republic of China from 6 to 23 August. Associations affiliated with FIFA were invited to send their full women's national teams and men's U-23 teams to participate. Men's teams were allowed to augment their squad with three players over the age of 23. Argentina won the tournament.
Executive vice-governor Wei Hong confirmed on November 21, 2008, that more than 90,000 people in total were dead or missing in the earthquake. He stated that 200,000 homes had been rebuilt, and 685,000 were under reconstruction, but 1.94 million households were still without permanent shelter. 1,300 schools had been reconstructed, with initial relocation of 25 townships, including Beichuan and Wenchuan, two of the most devastated areas. The government spent $441 billion on relief and reconstruction efforts.