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207 Students Killed in Yushu Quake

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The April 14 earthquake in a remote Tibetan region of northwest China's Qinghai Province killed 207 schoolchildren, a local official said Thursday.

Collapsed school buildings were blamed for about 35 percent of the deaths, said Cering Tai, deputy director of the provincial education bureau, at a press briefing.

The rest died outside school, he said.

The 7.1-magnitude quake hit Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture at 7:49 AM April 14 before the school day had begun. The death toll had risen to 2,183 with 84 still missing as of 5:00 PM Wednesday.

The quake affected 63 schools, with 22,019 students and teaching staff, where about 37 percent school buildings collapsed, the official said.

However, more than 85 percent of buildings in Gyegu near the epicenter, mostly made of mud-brick and wood, had collapsed.

Many school buildings were cracked, but did not collapse, which allowed many students to evacuate safely, he said.

The government had earmarked funds to renovate dangerous school buildings in Yushu in recent years. In addition, the schools also launched safety campaigns in the wake of the more deadly Wenchuan earthquake in neighboring Sichuan Province in May 2008, he said.

Most schools would resume classes by the end of this month in makeshift classrooms, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2010)