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Landslide kills 18 schoolchildren

Students were from another school hit by last month's earthquakes

Resuers search for survivors of the landslide Resuers search for survivors of the landslide
  • ucanews.com reporter, Yiliang
  • China
  • October 5, 2012
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At least 19 people were killed, 18 of them schoolchildren, when a landslide struck a primary school and several farmhouses in Yunnan province’s Yiliang County yesterday.

The school and three neighboring farmhouses were buried under around 160,000 cubic meters of soil which slid down the side of a mountain overlooking Longhai township, according to local media.

The children had just arrived at the school and were waiting for classes to begin when the accident occurred at around 8:10 a.m.

The landslide also blocked a nearby river, creating a 15-meter wide and 7-meter deep barrier lake. More than 800 people were evacuated.

The disaster may have been a result of two deadly earthquakes last month which killed 81 people and injured more than 800, and a continuous downpour since the beginning of this month, according to Catholic priest Father Huang Xiaojin, who was in the township today.

Tragically, the children who died were from another school that was badly damaged by last month’s quakes, which forced them to transfer to Tiantou Primary School where the disaster struck.

Moreover, according to Fr Huang, schools and government offices were supposed to be closed during the week for National Day holidays. But the county education bureau decided schools in the township should stay open so students could catch up on classes missed during a two-week suspension caused by the previous quakes.

“Local people are filled with fear after what has been a series of disasters,” Father Huang said today.

“I have been staying in the county to accompany the villagers as I noticed their fear," he said. "I am sad to see them suffer another serious blow.”

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