As a massive earthquake shook Sichuan province, subpar construction turned many Chinese schoolrooms into the mass graves of as many as 10,000 children, the New York Times reports, and grieving parents are pointing fingers at Beijing. The government, aware of the problem, had issued warnings on school safety in the years before the quake—but in many cases, the shoddy buildings remained. “This is not a natural disaster,” said one parent. “They stole our children.”
The Times explores one lower-income school which was reduced to rubble, killing hundreds, parents believe, while posh schools nearby stood strong. Experts said iron rods supporting its structure were poorly made; one called its floor panels “time bombs.”
Parents there have begun protests against what they see as corrupt and negligent officials. “I just want to say: the government didn’t do its job,” said one.