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Provincial authority outlines school collapse reasons
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Design defects and obsolete buildings are among the reasons that many schools collapsed in the strong earthquake in Sichuan Province, the provincial education authority said on Wednesday.

According to the initial investigation, the Educational Department of Sichuan Province blamed design defects in relation to quake-resistance as a reason for the many collapses, the newspaper Nanfang Daily reported.

Students walk past an earthquake-damaged school in Hongkou Village in Dujiangyan, in southwest China's Sichuan province, May 26, 2008. [Agencies]

Since many of the collapsed schools were built a long time ago, they were old and backward, the report said.

Another reason is that the quake exceeded the buildings' designed capacity.

In addition, the quake occurred at the time when students were at class and it was difficult for large crowds of students to disperse within seconds.

Sichuan has started investigating the collapses that buried thousands of students in the devastating earthquake on May 12.

China's educational department said on Monday that it would severely punish those responsible for substandard school construction.

Many bereaved parents have questioned the construction quality of the schools and asked the authorities to intervene.

Juyuan Middle School, located in Dujiangyan City neighboring Wenchuan, the epicenter, saw about 900 students and teachers buried when its school building collapsed, and more than 240 were confirmed dead.

(Xinhua News Agency May 29, 2008)

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