Thursday, May 15, 2008

China earthquake: once again, why did so many schools collapse while other buildings stood intact?

Although the earthquake is a natural disaster, the extent of the destruction and death has exposed the monstrous reality of an irrational social order that puts private profit ahead of the safety and well being of people. Anger is mounting at the shoddy character of the buildings in the impoverished towns and villages and the stark inequality between rich and poor.

At least nine schools and two hospitals were flattened in Sichuan. The death of school children has focussed resentment on “tofu” buildings—substandard constructions that look good on the outside but are like soybean curd on the inside. Limited safety regulations are often subverted by corrupt collusion between developers and government officials. An online comment cited in the Los Angeles Times yesterday asked: “Why did so many schools collapse but all the government buildings were fine? It’s outrageous!”

Dr. Tian has been treating the injured from Juyuan Middle School in Dujiangyan city, where collapsed buildings buried 900 students. He told today’s Australian newspaper: “It’s nothing but corruption—they must have used substandard cement and steel...The morgue is full of children’s bodies. It’s hell on earth.”

A teacher who was lucky to escape explained: “The school has been sending requests, at least since 2000, to the local government asking for it to rebuild more safely, but it took no action.” Another staff member said: “They [the two main buildings] were constructed from prefabricated cement boards that were inserted between steel poles to create walls. They were very fragile compared with concrete walls made of cement poured on site.” Full story...

See also: China quake: the despair and the agony. (Images)
And this: China quake: "Entire generation wiped out..."
And this: China quake: why did so many schools collapse?

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