CHANGSHA: Eight teenagers were confirmed dead and 26 others injured in a stampede at a central China school Monday night, local authorities said early Tuesday.
The accident happened at around 9:10 pm at the privately-run Yucai Middle School in Xiangxiang, a small city in Xiangtan of Hunan Province, said a publicity official with the Xiangtan city committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Blood can still be seen on the stairway in Yucai Middle School in Xiangxiang, a small city in Xiangtan of Hunan Province in this photo taken on Dec. 8, 2009. [Feng Zhiwei/Asianewsphoto]
He said the students had just finished their evening study session and were going downstairs when one of them toppled on the stairs of the second floor and caused dozens others to lose balance.
Seven boys and a girl, aged from 11 to 14, were killed in the stampede, he said.
Five students were seriously injured.
Photo taken on Dec. 8, 2009 shows students on the stairway in Yucai Middle School in Xiangxiang, a small city in Xiangtan of Hunan Province. [Feng Zhiwei/Asianewsphoto]
The injured students were being treated at three hospitals in Xiangxiang. An additional eight students at the center of the stampede were under medical observation, though they appeared unwounded, the official said.
A joint investigation team consisting safety, public security and procuratorate officials are investigating the cause of the accident. The principal and chairman of the school board are being questioned.
The Xiangxiang CPC committee has removed the city's education chief Zhu Qinghua from post and vowed to penalize all others who are held responsible for the accident.
The 12-year-old Yucai Middle School is a junior high school with 3,500 students and covers eight hectares. It is one of the best schools in Xiangxiang, a county-level city with a population of 900,000.