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. Lessons On Dealing With Disasters For China Kids As Flood Toll Hits 103

Before the school tragedy, China had reported at least 255 people killed in floods and storms since last month, which marked the start of the rainy season.

Beijing (AFP) Jun 16, 2005
Chinese authorities have told local education departments they must give children lessons on how to react in emergencies as the death toll from a school flash flood rose to 103 Thursday.

The Ministry of Education issued a circular that also told local administrative departments to put in place a system where someone in authority has responsibility during disasters, Xinhua news agency said.

The directive came as the death toll from a mountain torrent that swamped the Shalan Township Central Elementary School in Heilongjiang province last Friday rose to 103, including 99 children.

"We found the bodies of two more children yesterday and two more today. Six students remain missing," a spokesman for the disaster relief effort told AFP.

Villagers have complained that children were left to fend for themselves as torrents of muddy water engulfed the schoolyard, and that there was a lack of response by local officials.

Provincial governor Zhang Zuoji has indicated penalties could be imposed on some people for failing to respond quickly enough to the flood that occurred after a sudden rainstorm pummelled the narrow Shalan valley.

In the ministry circular, schools were told to "offer emergency training to help students save and protect themselves in the case of flooding, mud-rock flows, fires and earthquakes".

It also said without elaborating that "school authorities must stop using classrooms with lurking dangers or even suspend class if necessary".

Before the school tragedy, China had reported at least 255 people killed in floods and storms since last month, which marked the start of the rainy season.

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