11 Dead After Roof of School Gym Collapses in China

BBC reports many of the victims are children
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 24, 2023 8:55 AM CDT
11 Dead After Roof of School Gym Collapses in China
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, an aerial view shows rescuers at a middle school gymnasium in Qiqihar, China, on Monday, July 24, 2023, following a roof collapse.   (Wang Song/Xinhua via AP)

Eleven people were killed when a roof collapsed at a middle school gymnasium in China's far northeast, per the AP. The incident occurred Sunday in the city of Qiqihar, and the last victim was pulled from the wreckage Monday morning. The BBC quotes eyewitnesses who say many of the victims are children, with the gym reportedly being used by a female volleyball team at the time. The official Xinhua News Agency said construction work on an adjacent building at the school was the likely cause, after workers stored materials on the gym's roof that absorbed rainwater. Nineteen people had been in the gymnasium of the No. 34 Middle School, Xinhua said, but it gave no details on how many were students.

Social media and the Baidu news website carried footage of angry parents complaining about what they said was a lack of communication from authorities. Such expressions of anger and defiance are usually quickly suppressed by police and government departments worried over social unrest. Construction and industrial accidents are regular occurrences in China, largely resulting from companies ignoring safety standards and corruption or a lack of diligence on the part of local government agencies. Those problems are especially acute in second- and third-tier cities such as Qiqihar, which lies in the Chinese rustbelt province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia that has seen large-scale economic decline and outward migration in recent years. (More China stories.)

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