Explosion at China Kindergarten Kills at Least 8 and Wounds Dozens

Investigators at the site of an explosion outside a kindergarten in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu early on Friday. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast. Photo: Associated Press 
 
An explosion outside a kindergarten in eastern China killed at least eight people and injured nearly 70 on Thursday, leaving a chaotic scene as dozens, some clutching children, were thrown to the ground.
 
Images of dazed and injured people outside the Chuangxin kindergarten on the outskirts of Xuzhou, a large city in the province of Jiangsu, circulated on Chinese social media. One video showed what appeared to be doctors trying to revive a toddler covered in blood.
 
In a video posted on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, a man yelled, “Now they are carrying out dead bodies!”
 
By Friday morning, the Feng County government in Xuzhou said 65 people had been hurt, including eight with serious injuries, in addition to the eight confirmed dead. Two of the dead perished outside the brightly painted building and the other six died later.
 
The mayor of Xuzhou, Zhou Tiegen, told reporters that none of the casualties were from the kindergarten.
 
“We’ve checked and at the time of the explosion, the Chuangxin kindergarten still hadn’t been let out of class, and none of the children or teachers from the kindergarten was a casualty,” Mr. Zhou said, according to the website of Legal Daily, an official Chinese newspaper.
 
Mr. Zhou said that the police had “made an initial determination that this is a criminal case, and are tentatively focusing on a suspect.” But his wording left unclear whether investigators believed that the explosion, which occurred shortly before 5 p.m., was deliberate or caused by negligence.
 
Hospital workers in Xuzhou said in interviews on Friday that most of the people injured outside the kindergarten were parents or grandparents who were waiting to pick up students at the school.
 
But at least some of the people waiting at the entrance to the school apparently had toddlers with them.
 
Police officers stood guard early Friday outside the kindergarten, which sits in the middle of a tree-lined residential area, next to a seafood market and small shops.
 
Families gathered at nearby hospitals through the night, awaiting word of loved ones.
 
A woman who declined to provide her name said she was there in search of her sister, who had been waiting outside the school when the explosion occurred. She said she had dialed her sister’s telephone number repeatedly but could not get through.
 
“I don’t know where my sister is,” she said. “All I can do is wait here.”
 
Xuzhou is an industrial city that lies at the intersection of China’s main rail lines leading south from Beijing with an important rail line from the east coast that runs to Central Asia.
 
It is a large center for the manufacture of construction equipment and also has extensive military facilities because of its role as a rail hub.
 
The blast appears likely to provoke public anger and worry about safety around schools, including dangerous chemicals, fire hazards and explosive materials.
 
In 2001, Zhu Rongji, then the premier, apologized about an explosion at a rural schoolhouse in southeast China that killed 42 people, including 38 children. Mr. Zhu had initially dismissed reports, which turned out to be true, that the children had been making fireworks.
 
Since then, safety around Chinese schools has generally improved. But the country’s feverish growth has created hazards. Food vendors often use portable gas tanks carried on bicycles and carts. In 2013, an explosion on a cycle killed two people outside a school in the Guangxi region in southern China.
 
Schools have been targeted in past instances, but officials made no suggestion that the explosion on Thursday was deliberate and asked people to wait for the results of a full investigation.
 
This year, China’s premier, Li Keqiang, addressed public worries about school safety, promising the government would do better.
 
“Campus safety concerns the healthy development of millions of students and the happiness of their families,” Mr. Li said at a meeting in April of the State Council, China’s government cabinet.

Related Stories
Share this page
Touched Sympathetic Bored Angry Amused Sad Happy No comment

Daan Roosegaarde: A Dutch artist’s mission to clear smog from Chinese citiesUS beef sales face hurdles in ChinaMan's death sparks public outcry over lax regulation of Internet firmsTrump threatens China with new trade war, Beijing appears unmovedPatience has 'bottom line', India toldWill unmanned stores take off in China?Trump administration to act against alleged China trade violationsStarbucks shifts gear in China with big acquisitionCandid dialogue key to improving China-South Korea relationsMilitary action movie arouses patriotic sentiment among Chinese audience
< Prev Next >