Lightning tragedy sparks concern

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-26 06:44

The State Council, China's cabinet, has expressed concern on Friday over the lightning tragedy in a village school in Southwest China.

The China Meteorological Administration dispatched a work team to the site on Thursday.

Seven children were killed and 39 were injured on Wednesday afternoon when lightning struck their three-room school house in the village of Xingye, more than 300 kilometers from Chongqing Municipality.

Many parents of the children who are working in the big cites as migrant workers, are rushing home following the tragedy.

Volunteers have been organized to care and comfort the injured children. Five are in serious condition, sources said.

A dozen doctors have been called to the county seat of Kaixian from three hospitals in Chongqing to help treat the students. The village of Xingye is about 50 kilometers from the urban center of Kaixian.

Village officials and health workers are providing psychological counseling to the injured and their relatives, the sources said.

The primary school has about 150 students, but just three classrooms. Five of those killed were in the sixth grade, while two were fourth graders. They ranged in age from 10 to 14, said county officials.

"After a big bang, black smoke rose from two of the classrooms. Ninety-five students and their teachers were swept off their feet," said an eyewitness.

"Some of the students suffered burns all over their body. Clothes, shoes and textbooks were scattered all over the place."

Those with slight injuries were treated at the town hospital, while the more serious were transferred to the county hospital.

Witnesses said most of the victims were sitting near windows in their classrooms. None of the teaching staff were injured.

Classes will resume on Monday in newly rented accommodation, the sources said.

The village is prone to lightning and the school did not have a lightning conductor. County government authorities of Kaixian have ordered a county-wide inspection of schools.


(China Daily 05/26/2007 page2)

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