China's grief turns to anger over poorly built schools
A week after the earthquake that struck Sichuan province, sorrow is turning to anger for many of the survivors, particularly the parents of children who died in poorly constructed schools.
In Wufu village, Mianzhu, a grieving father points angrily at what used to be Fuxing No 2 Primary School, a pile of rubble surrounded by slightly damaged administrative buildings. Trainers and schoolbags are sticking out of the wreckage or lying around the site.
Jiang Xujun puts down the picture of his 10-year-old son Yao briefly to rub the mortar around the bricks; it crumbles easily. "Look at this! A natural disaster I could understand, I could live with. But this was negligence. Only dust was holding this building together."
China entered a second day of mourning for the 40,000 confirmed dead, with the final toll expected to rise above 70,000. A particularly harrowing aspect has been the number of children who died; nearly 7,000 classrooms were destroyed, and the government has promised to investigate why so many collapsed. The quake struck at 2.28pm, when many students have an afternoon nap.
The parents of the scores of children, aged between 10 and 13, who died in Fuxing No 2 Primary School are gathered at the gate, amid large floral wreaths. The names of the dead are written in blood on a banner beside the rubble. And the parents are furious.
"The construction was bad," says Jiang Yiqing. "My daughter Lanlan's 11th birthday was coming up soon. We found the body on the day of the quake; my mother was injured but we had to rush to help the children. We lifted a heavy slab and found the bodies."
Beside her, Ma Ying, mother of 11-year-old Jing Xingbo, says: "They were best friends. I found my boy's body the next day at noon. He was a good boy, a very diligent student. These were our only children. We are desperate; what will we do now? Why are these offices still standing?"
We are surrounded by weeping, angry people with more photographs. "We counted 127 dead children, [but] there were 300 in the school," one father says. "This building is at least 20 years old, and we always knew it was bad. Our kids would be alive today if this building had been properly built."
Most of the community are farmers and most of the dead were single children of the one-child policy, another source of sorrow.
The problem is that many schools were built quickly during China's meteoric economic rise, feeding an insatiable need for education as the rural poor try to educate their children out of poverty.
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
World news in pictures
You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
Revealed: Eerie new images show forgotten French apartment that was abandoned at the outbreak of World War II and left untouched for 70 years
- 1 Stoke City investigate 'religious abuse' after 'pig's head is found in Kenwyne Jones' locker'
- 2 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 3 Amir Khan interview: 'One second could end my boxing career'
- 4 Groundhog day looms for Arsène Wenger as Arsenal battle for a place in the Champions League on final day
- 5 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + bens: Progressive Recruitment: C# WEB DEVELOPER Le...
£240 - £260 per day: Progressive Recruitment: WPF Developer (C#, VB.Net) North...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: KS2 teacher needed to do PPA ...