Renovated schools stood up to shock

School buildings that were strengthened as part of a national campaign to improve campus safety suffered little damage in the Yunnan province earthquake.

Liu Lehua, deputy director of the education bureau in the quake-hit area of Zhaotong city, said 134 school buildings - mostly ones built before 2000 - had collapsed.

However no teachers or students were killed or injured in campus buildings because of the summer vacation.

"All the buildings that have been strengthened performed well. They are still standing with little damage," said Liu.

The campaign to improve the safety of school buildings was launched in 2009 after many students were buried in rubble when a devastating earthquake hit Wenchuan, Sichuan province.

The program covered teaching areas and dormitories in parts of the country with a high risk of earthquakes, floods, landslides and other natural disasters.

The central government allocated more than 14 billion yuan ($2.3 billion) to the initiative between 2009 and 2011, the Ministry of Finance said.

A strengthened building at the middle school in Longtoushan township, the epicenter of Sunday′s quake, survived unscathed and is being used to accommodate soldiers taking part in the rescue efforts.

Students in the area had been given lessons on how to cope in an earthquake, and this helped many who were caught up in the disaster.

Primary school student Yu Lin was watching TV with two friends when they felt the earth shaking. Without stopping to put on their shoes, they ran out of the room before the walls collapsed.

"I thought it was an earthquake, and the advice from the survival lessons came to mind, making me do what we had rehearsed," he said.

The lessons saved others, too.

Duan Houxiong, 7, from Longtoushan township, also run out of his house immediately after he felt the quake.

The lessons had made such a deep impression on him that he was able to show others a way of protecting the head with the arms.

Tragically his grandfather and 2-year-old sister were killed by falling walls.

Zhu Fuxi, a high-ranking official with the Chengdu Military Area Command, has instructed troops to help local schools.

Soldiers are building wooden huts so that the children will have enough classrooms when the new semester starts.

The city education authority plans to conduct a complete inspection of all school buildings to ensure they are safe when students return.


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