Schools urged to learn from stampede

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 December, 2010, 12:00am

The Ministry of Education issued an emergency circular yesterday calling on all schools to draw a lesson from the stampede in Aksu, Xinjiang, which left 41 students injured on Monday.

The ministry has repeatedly issued specific requirements to prevent stampedes, but some schools are still ignoring them, according to the circular.

'Education authorities on all levels should immediately inform schools, teachers and students so that they can... pay more attention to such issues and prevent such accidents happening again,' it said.

Safety education should be conducted immediately so that students can fully understand the main reason for and severe consequences of the stampede and comprehend basic protection measures, it said.

'Students should be educated not to race or push each other when going up and down the stairs and not to panic or crush one another when someone falls. They should develop the good habit of using the stairs in an orderly fashion and walk slowly, quietly and by the right side.'

Preventive measures were also specified, such as safety inspections to determine whether the handrail and the width of the corridor are adequate for students.

More than 120 pupils fell on stairs at the No 5 Primary School at noon on Monday while rushing to the playground after class.

One student fell first near the ground level and triggered the stampede. The handrail of the stairs near the ground level was almost destroyed. Seven of the 41 students who had to stay in hospital for treatment were seriously injured.

By yesterday the most severely hurt student, who had been in intensive care, had emerged from his coma and was responsive to touch and words. His doctor was optimistic about his recovery, according to a report by China National Radio.

The six other students in serious condition had all improved and, after CT and ultrasound scans, showed no sign of deteriorating. The 34 students who suffered minor injuries should be able to leave hospital in two or three days, the report said.

Last year a similar stampede in Xiangxiang, Hunan, left eight pupils dead. In April 2008, at least 10 children were injured in a crush when about 800 students of a Chongqing primary school rushed back to their classrooms from the playground. In November 2006, 10 were killed when pupils rushed out of class in a Jiangxi middle school.

'The Education Ministry has ordered schools to establish a routine and drill at least once every semester to prevent a stampede. Had the Aksu No5 Primary School obeyed the requirement, the stampede would not have happened,' wrote a critic in Shanghai's Xinmin Evening Post.

'It's the lack of responsibility and vigilance that is responsible for the stampede.

'How many schools have indeed conducted systematic safety drills to make students understand how to protect their safety?'