School gym collapse claims lives of girls playing netball in China”

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The concrete roof of a school gymnasium in China’s northeastern city collapsed, resulting in the death of at least 11 people, most of whom were young girls playing netball. The catastrophic event occurred at the No. 34 Middle School in Longsha District, Qiqihar, situated in the Heilongjiang province. Reports indicate that the collapse was first reported at 2:56 pm (06:56 GMT) on a fateful Sunday, as per statements from the provincial fire and rescue department and the official Xinhua news agency.

Tragically, when the accident occurred, a female volleyball team was undergoing training in the gymnasium. A father, anxiously waiting for news of his 16-year-old daughter at the local hospital, told China Youth Daily about the unfortunate turn of events. According to an eyewitness who spoke to state radio, the team consisted of students selected from various grades and had just returned to the school after a competition outside the city. While it is still unclear whether any adults were among the victims, the rescue efforts were fraught with urgency and determination.

As rescue operations continued, the grim reality emerged that 15 individuals were initially trapped beneath the rubble. Authorities worked tirelessly to save those trapped, managing to pull out the last person, a student who showed no vital signs, on Monday morning.

One video that went viral on social media captured the anguish of a grieving father who expressed anger towards the government for sending police to monitor parents, but neglecting to provide updates about their children. His heart-wrenching words shed light on the distressing scene at the hospital, where all the children were covered in mud and blood, making identification difficult.

Overhead aerial views from social media posts revealed the extent of devastation, with the gymnasium’s roof entirely collapsed, and rescue workers surrounded by large chunks of concrete. Cranes were brought in to aid in the rescue efforts, illustrating the magnitude of the tragedy that struck the school community.

The region, along with several other parts of China, had experienced heavy rainfall over the weekend, leading to flooding and damage in some areas. A preliminary investigation indicated that construction workers had illegally placed perlite, a mineral with high water content and absorbent properties, on the gymnasium roof during the construction of an adjacent teaching building. The continuous rainfall caused the perlite to soak up water, increasing its weight significantly, and ultimately led to the roof’s catastrophic collapse.

As the investigation delves deeper into the cause of this devastating incident, those in charge of the construction company responsible for the gymnasium’s construction have been taken into police custody. The tragedy has left a community grieving, seeking answers and justice for the precious lives lost and shattered in this heartrending event.

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