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Dozens of students injured in balcony collapse
Date: 2010/10/25 Click: 1843
Two students remained in critical condition on Friday after 27 pupils fell from the second floor of a school building when a balcony collapsed in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Thursday, local authorities said.

Investigators examine an accident site at a primary school in Liujiang county, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Thursday. Twenty-seven students fell to the ground from the second story of a school building, when the balcony collapsed. The slogan on the wall reminds students to be careful. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The injured students at Luoman Central Primary School in Liujiang county of Liuzhou city, including four in serious condition, were sent to local hospitals, Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Two of the seriously injured students are still under observation as they suffered head and chest injuries, but their lives are no longer in danger," Yang Zhigang, an official of the Liuzhou government, told China Daily on Friday.

"The injured students are being treated at three hospitals, and one of them has been sent back home."

Yang said the government will pay all the medical bills.

"We have launched an investigation into the accident and will make the results public in a few days," he said.

The accident occurred at about 4:40 pm after a balcony on the second floor of the school collapsed, Xinhua reported.

The balcony had been crowded with dozens of students rushing to return sports equipment after an outdoor activity class, the last class of the day.

Built in 1979, the building is listed as a Level 2 dangerous building on a four-level scale, but it can still be used according to regulations, Xinhua quoted a statement from the local publicity department as saying.

Level 4 is the most dangerous.

The accident has again highlighted school building safety across the country amid a series of building collapses.

Three pupils were killed and another 21 injured after a retaining wall collapsed at Guihua Village Primary School in Bobai county, in Guangxi in May.

After the accident, the Ministry of Education ordered a nationwide inspection of school building safety.

The ministry said earlier that 90 percent of Chinese counties had set up special archives for school building safety and the central government earmarked 8 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) in 2009 to improve school buildings across the country.

But Xiong Bingqi, vice-president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, told China Daily on Friday that many schools in rural and remote areas, especially in central and western China, still suffer from poor construction quality due to lack of funds.

"I believe some parents had sensed potential safety hazards about the school buildings before the tragedies, but they might have had no efficient channels to be involved in the management of campus security," he said.

A series of school tragedies have proven that some local governments had not spent enough to guarantee quality construction for school buildings, Xiong said.
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