Chinese officials are now blaming a landslide that slammed into a school building for the deaths of 16 students, with three people still missing.
Chinese state media say the landslide struck early Thursday in southwestern Yunnan province, a region still recovering from a devastating earthquake.
The official Xinhua
news agency says the landslide destroyed the Youfang Elementary School in Zhenhe village as well as two farmhouses. It also blocked a nearby river, forcing the evacuation of 800 people.
Officials said about 2,000 residents, police, medics and military personnel rushed to the scene to begin rescue efforts.
Normally, the students would not have been in school, because China is in the middle of a weeklong national holiday period. But officials say the students were making up for classes that were canceled following last month's earthquake that left 81 people dead.
Southwestern Yunnan province is a mountainous, earthquake-prone region. Last month's 5.6-magnitude temblor devastated several villages and displaced more than 200,000 people.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.