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School Safety Plans Urged
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Schools across the country have been urged to draw up safety plans along with land and resource authorities and weather bureaus after a tornado killed two school pupils and injured 46 others on Thursday.


Schools should examine their buildings and grounds for "geological hazards" with the help of local land and resources authorities, the Ministry of Education said in a notice issued on Saturday.


And schools should have better contact with weather bureaus to ensure they receive early warning when typhoons or tornadoes are heading their way, the ministry urged.


The notice comes in the wake of the devastation caused by a tornado which tore through a village school in Sixian County, east China's Anhui Province early on Thursday morning.


Fourteen-year-old Zhu Jiawei and 13-year-old Bu Haicheng were killed instantly when their classrooms collapsed -- 44 other pupils and two teachers were injured.

Last night two students were still in a critical condition but the remainder are stable according to the local government.


The ministry reiterated in its notice that "schools must stop using classrooms with hidden dangers and should even suspend classes if necessary."


School principals and education bureau directors must be held responsible for such incidents, the notice added.


Last June, a flash flood swept through the town of Shalan in northeastern Heilongjiang Province inundating a one-storey primary school. The incident resulted in the deaths of 117 people --105 of them were school children.


In March ten people were found responsible for the tragedy including the local Party and police chiefs and received disciplinary sanctions or one-year sentences for negligence in not getting prompt assistance to the scene.


With the summer vacation drawing near the ministry also reminded schools that safety education is mandatory.


Students should watch safety education films in class before the vacation begins and emergency drills which explain what to do it case of floods, mudslides, earthquakes and fires have to be held in both urban and rural schools.


The Ministry of Communications also called for a nationwide inspection of traffic safety, especially on roads, railways and bridges on the way to schools and on vehicles and ferries which carry students.


(China Daily July 3, 2006)


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