04/24/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Sichuan earthquake: government prohibits investigations into collapsed schools

On May 12, 2008, about 10,000 students died in the schools, which collapsed like "tofu puddings," while the surrounding buildings remained standing. The government is telling parents asking for justice that there will be no investigations. The bitter resignation of those who have lost their only child.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The government of Sichuan has banned any investigation into the buildings that collapsed in the earthquake on May 12, 2008, which killed about 88,000 people. The decision crushes any hope of justice for the parents of the approximately 10,000 children who died in the collapse of the schools.

It is not known how soon the decision will be adopted, or its exact content: the government of the county of Beichuan, in rejecting the latest request for investigations into the collapse, responded that "Sichuan province's Department of Construction has clearly stipulated that no quality appraisal would be carried out on buildings that collapsed in the quake."

Many schools collapsed like "tofu puddings" in the earthquake, while the surrounding buildings remained standing. The local authorities have been accused of pocketing the funds intended for the schools, skimping on construction costs, including the elimination of cement. In the face of the widespread indignation in the entire country, Beijing pledged that in-depth, speedy investigations would be carried out.

But then it was stated only that all of the buildings had collapsed because of the earthquake. Almost one year later, there is still no official list of the students who died. The parents who have carried out their own investigations have been threatened by the police, and the courts have rejected all requests for legal action.

Su Hanquan lost her 16-year-old daughter in the middle school of Beichuan. She tells the South China Morning Post that "The ban would be extremely unfair to parents because we would have to live with a big question mark for the rest of our lives."

But in the face of the refusal from the authorities, there is more resignation than indignation, because, as Mu Xianbing says, who lost his 15-year-old son: "It's meaningless to ask the same question because it won't make a difference."

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