‘Greed and Graft Killed Our Children’

Peter Harmsen reports in the Age:

Locals have a simple answer for why the four-storey Juyuan Middle School collapsed during the China quake, killing hundreds of children, while nearby buildings stayed standing: greed.

“Look at the building materials they used,” said one resident in this rural community in south-west China. “The cement wasn’t mixed with water in the right proportion. There are not enough steel beams. The sand isn’t clean.”

Whether short-cuts were taken to build schools has become a pressing issue following Monday’s quake, as China grapples with the fact that so many children were among the more than 50,000 people thought killed in the disaster.

Nearly 7000 schools — a disproportionately high number of buildings — were destroyed in Sichuan province by the 7.9-magnitude quake, which struck in the afternoon when many students were in class or taking their daily nap.

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