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Gov't to probe of school collapses in quake
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China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) has ordered local authorities to investigate the reasons why school buildings collapsed in the earthquake, said Yang Rong, director of the MOHURD's department of standards and norms, in an online interview.

"If quality problems do exist in the school buildings, we will deal with the persons responsible strictly with no toleration and give the public a satisfying answer," said Han Jin, head of the development and plan department of the Ministry of Education in the interview.

The 7.8-magnitude quake that struck Sichuan on Monday was known to have destroyed 216,000 structures in the province, including 6,898 school buildings, as of Wednesday, according to incomplete calculations, said Han.

The quake hit at 2:28 p.m., when students were in class, leading to relatively severe fatalities among teachers and students, said Han.

"We want to express our deepest condolences to the teachers and students who lost their precious lives in the quake," he said.

The reason for the collapse of buildings, including schools, would be thoroughly probed and analyzed, as the force of the quake had far exceeded the anticipated degree on which the government established quake-resistance standards for buildings in those areas, said Yang.

He said China had clear requirements on seismic-resistant designs for buildings in primary and high schools.

Whether to raise the standard would be considered after rechecking the local quake intensity and investigating the damage, said Yang, adding that the latest scientific research and China's economic and social situation would also be taken into account.

(Xinhua News Agency May 15, 2008)

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