China quake: "All of a sudden they were all gone"

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Furious parents confront local officials, demanding to know why a school collapsed and killed their children when other buildings survived the earthquake. Beijing is to investigate dozens of similar cases.

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Story Transcript

VOICEOVER: Until last week, this was ["foo-SHIN"] Elementary School in ["mee-yan-JOO"], Sichuan. These are the faces of the 127 students who died when the building crashed to the ground in the earthquake. Two of its teachers were severely injured, the other 28 unaffected—they were outside the building during a break. But this little girl was inside and escaped with other peoples.

SURVIVOR (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): The school building was so shoddy that it collapsed completely after two shocks. We were classmates. I feel sad. We were very happy together. All of a sudden, they were all gone.

VOICEOVER: Parents have gathered to mourn their children, but this is just one of many sites across the province where sorrow is turning to rage, as mothers and fathers demand to know why so many schools have collapsed. Today, the chief of the local education bureau has turned up after numerous requests, but he doesn’t give the answers they’re seeking. "Where’s your conscience?" this mother demands. He tells her ten more schools have collapsed nearby.

EDUCATION BUREAU CHIEF (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): Asked whether it involved an earthquake or shoddy buildings, I can’t give any explanation today. It involved so many other departments.

VOICEOVER: These people have no money, no connections, and little education. Few would normally dare to challenge the authorities, but it seems they no longer care about the consequences.

WOMAN (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): I have nothing now. All my hopes are gone. I don’t want anything. I just want justice for my child. He died unnecessarily.

VOICEOVER: Even as officials and teachers depart, anger follows them. This grandmother berates them as they leave, demanding to know why their hearts are so black. Amid the rising tide of anger, Beijing has promised an investigation into why so many schools tumbled and whether poor construction linked to corruption was involved.

MAN (VOICEOVER TRANSLATION): It’s obvious the shoddy building killed our children. It’s not a natural disaster. Many buildings did not collapse. All around are still standing except for this one. We want to ask them why.

VOICEOVER: The families think they have their own answers, showing us the lack of foundations and the way the cement simply crumbles to dust.

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.