Thursday, June 23, 2005

RISING TIDE - Update 3

The excellent China Digital Times received this report on the Shalan School tragedy, written by a Chinese journalist and posted on a BBS - he was not allowed to published it in the mainstream Chinese press. I suggest you read it in full (and if you can't access, drop me a line at, and I'll send it to you). Here's an excerpt:
Guoqin Zhao came to the first-year classroom. She shouted to the teacher Li (pseudo-name), “Teacher Li, please stop the class! The dam upstream is broken!”

Students started crying. After lady Zhao picked up her two granddaughters and was ready to leave, she saw their neighbor’s kid Lei Sun was there. So she offered him to leave with her too. At that time, Li’s response was typical as a teacher and an authority. She yelled to her students, “sit down, all of you! No one could leave without your parents!” Lady Zhao left with her two kids without giving further warnings. And teacher Li didn’t even bother to ask what was going on.

Two hours later, only one girl survived out of the 46 students in that classroom. All of them were buried in the cold mud water, including Lei Sun who was stopped by teacher Li to leave with lady Zhao.

The only survived girl named Yuxin Liu, a 7-year-old. When flood dashed into her classroom, Yuxin struggled with her classmates to try to stand up. Luckily, she gripped the heating radiator and climbed onto the windowsill. She managed to stand in the deep water for more than one hour. The mud water once even merged her completely.

About 3pm, Yuxin’s uncle rushed in to search the dead bodies, when he suddenly heard his nephew’s voice from above. “Uncle, what are you looking for? I am here.” Yuxin’d uncle cried out loudly, while the little girl was still calm.

Later people found teacher Li sitting outside alone on the windowsill.

When the parents entered the classroom, their experiences were the worst nightmares: they touched and fished one after another small dead bodies out of the blackened water.

Most of the kid died in their classrooms with their bags and books. We still can find their belongings until June 14th: cut-and-paste, teacher-parents communication cards, photos of the June 1st show, one-finger-long yellow shoes, candies, and their writings.

There are a lot of fingerprints left on the wall: the large ones were from their parents who tried to clean their hands after searching in the mud; the small ones, some of which almost reached the ceiling, were from the kids. The flood once reached the level right below the top panel of window glass.

There are only 2 dead out of 22 students in the third grade, class II. A girl named Ningning Song said that Teacher Rong Li asked them to pile up the desks and chairs. They broke windows, and tried to sit on the top window-frames. They were crying, and teacher Rong Li calmed them down, “It will be OK. The water will be gone soon.”
In spite of government censorship, the Shalan school tragedy has attracted a great deal of attention in Chinese cyberspace. The CDN reports:
The flood has been a hot topic on Chinese BBS sites. A moving poem written for the children killed has received widespread attention online. For more about media coverage of the Shalan tragedy, see ESWN's recent posts.
Links to the BBS sites and ESWN's posts can be found in the CDN article.

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