An official has at last admitted what many parents in Sichuan have believed since the devastating May 12th earthquake: that schools that collapsed could have done so because of shoddy construction and inferior materials.
The admission has weight as it comes from Ma Zongjin, a geologist who chairs the technical committee set up to investigate the quake. “In recent years, a lot of school buildings have been built in China and in this process of rapid development, some problems may exist,” Ma said Beijing. “The structure of the school buildings may not be reasonable enough and the related construction materials may not be strong enough.” Here via Xinhua.
The issue has become a sensitive political matter, with parents of dead children staging protests to demand investigations into why schools collapsed even though nearby buildings were left standing, and officials trying to brush the protests under the rubble. Whether Ma’s comments leads to local and provincial officials being held accountable is a moot point.
The committee also said that the damage to property amounted to $123 billion, and that 18,000 people still missing were unlikely to have survived. That would take the death toll to 88,000.