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Chinese Parents' Anger Over Collapsed Schools Rises


Education officials say more than 6,500 teachers and students were killed when schools collapsed in the massive earthquake that hit China this month. Parents are angry - they blame shoddy construction for the loss of their children. Jamila Trindle reports from Juyuan, in Sichuan province, where more than 13,000 schools were badly damaged in the quake.

Parents who lost children in schools that collapsed in the quake are looking for answers.

In Juyuan, the school is only a pile of rubble, but the buildings next to it remain intact.

This father, who did not want to give his name, lost his 15-year-old son when the middle school, collapsed killing hundreds of students. He swings between anger and grief.

Not only because of my own baby, he says, but also so many other children, so many bodies lined up like ants together in the grave. He says they are the hope and future of this country, but now they are gone in a moment.

Because of China's strict population policy, which allows most couples to have only one child, thousands of families in the quake zone are now childless. It is a huge blow in a country where traditionally couples count on their children to care for them in their old age and carry on the family name.

In some neighborhoods and villages, almost an entire generation has been buried under rubble.

This father cries as he talks about his son, his only child, and how smart he was. That is why, he says, they are looking for school officials.

He says local officials' corruption and neglect are to blame for shoddy construction of schools and therefore the deaths of these children. He wants to find out which company is responsible for building the school and which school official was in charge of the construction.

The central government has promised to investigate school construction - to try to find out why so many schools collapsed. It says those responsible for bad construction will be prosecuted. And Beijing says that couples who lost their only child in the quake will be allowed to have another - if they are able.

The parents at this gathering say they are happy with the central government's response. But, they remain angry because the local officials who built and ran the schools have not even been to see them.

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