China's education watchdog has banned the usage of hydrogen-filled balloons in school activities after an explosion injured nearly 100 students at a northwest China school last Sunday.
"Education departments at various levels, schools and kindergartens must asked for government permission before they organize activities involving the handling and release of hydrogen-filled balloons," the Ministry of Education said in a notice on its website on Saturday.
About 1,600 small balloons set to be released at the opening ceremony of a sports meet unexpectedly exploded and caught fire at around 9:00 AM on Sept. 16, injuring 98 students of the Lanzhou Electric Power Vocational School, based in Gansu Province.
Investigations by local work safety bureau showed that illegal use of hydrogen led to the balloon blast.
A local company filled the balloons with highly combustible hydrogen in stead of helium as required.
And the event organizers did not report their plan or check the balloons.
People responsible for the explosion will be "severely dealt with," the notice added.
The ministry asked education departments at various levels, schools and kindergartens to be more prudent in future activities, and ordered them to make safety plans, double-check sites, routes, vehicles and facilities, and enhance safety training of both the students and teachers.
(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2007)