At Least 11 Killed as China School Gym Roof Collapses During Girl’s Volleyball Team Training

At least 11 people were killed when the roof of a middle school gymnasium collapsed in northern China, authorities said. The incident occurred in the city of Qiqihar on July 23, and the last trapped student was pulled from the wreckage without vital signs on July 24, according to state broadcaster CCTV. The cause is under investigation, CCTV said. Nineteen people were in the gymnasium of the No. 34 Middle School at the time, CCTV reported, which gave no details on how many were students. A female volleyball team had been training in the gymnasium at the time of the collapse, according to state media reports and local residents. Li Ping (a pseudonym), whose son studies at the middle school, told The Epoch Times that at least two victims were students. “I knew the two girls,” Li said, referring to the victims. “It’s miserable. So sad.” China’s social media carried footage of angry parents complaining about a lack of communication from authorities. “Those children have been rescued for such a long time; no one told us about their situations,” an anguished father said in a viral video clip on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform. The man said in the video that his daughter was taken to a hospital at around 7 p.m., and there were no updates until he finally pleaded with medical staff at midnight. At that time, he was told his daughter had died. “They told me my daughter is gone, but I said we had never had a chance to see these children. All the children’s faces were covered with dust, mud, or blood [when they were sent to the emergency room]. “I begged them, let me identify her by myself. What if she is not my kid?” he said. “Now, an hour has passed, and still no one allowed me to have a look. “What have [the authorities] been doing in the four, five, or even six hours [since the children were sent to the hospital]? “Those standing here are all police, officials from the education bureau, and the government. No one communicates with us at all … the police came here simply to prevent us from protests.” Hu Xijin, a former editor of the Chinese tabloid Global Times, urged officials to strengthen communications with the victims’ families. Another local resident said the censors blocked her social media post that included video clips. The woman, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals, added that her daughter’s classmate died in the incident. Rescuers conduct a search and rescue operation at the site of a middle school gymnasium roof collapse in Qiqihar, in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, on July 24, 2023. (Zhang Tao/Xinhua via AP) Such expressions of anger and defiance are usually quickly suppressed by the authorities as Beijing worries over social unrest. The Chinese Communist Party allows no challenges to its authority and seeks to keep total control over the press and social media. A preliminary investigation shows construction work at the school was the likely cause, after workers stored materials on the gym’s roof that absorbed rainwater, state media Xinhua reported. Construction and industrial accidents are regular occurrences in China, largely resulting from companies ignoring safety standards and corruption or a lack of diligence on the part of local government agencies. Those problems are especially acute in second- and third-tier cities such as Qiqihar, which lies in the Chinese rustbelt province of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia and has seen large-scale economic decline and outward migration in recent years. Hong Ning and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

At Least 11 Killed as China School Gym Roof Collapses During Girl’s Volleyball Team Training

At least 11 people were killed when the roof of a middle school gymnasium collapsed in northern China, authorities said.

The incident occurred in the city of Qiqihar on July 23, and the last trapped student was pulled from the wreckage without vital signs on July 24, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The cause is under investigation, CCTV said.

Nineteen people were in the gymnasium of the No. 34 Middle School at the time, CCTV reported, which gave no details on how many were students.

A female volleyball team had been training in the gymnasium at the time of the collapse, according to state media reports and local residents.

Li Ping (a pseudonym), whose son studies at the middle school, told The Epoch Times that at least two victims were students.

“I knew the two girls,” Li said, referring to the victims. “It’s miserable. So sad.”

China’s social media carried footage of angry parents complaining about a lack of communication from authorities.

“Those children have been rescued for such a long time; no one told us about their situations,” an anguished father said in a viral video clip on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform.

The man said in the video that his daughter was taken to a hospital at around 7 p.m., and there were no updates until he finally pleaded with medical staff at midnight. At that time, he was told his daughter had died.

“They told me my daughter is gone, but I said we had never had a chance to see these children. All the children’s faces were covered with dust, mud, or blood [when they were sent to the emergency room].

“I begged them, let me identify her by myself. What if she is not my kid?” he said. “Now, an hour has passed, and still no one allowed me to have a look.

“What have [the authorities] been doing in the four, five, or even six hours [since the children were sent to the hospital]?

“Those standing here are all police, officials from the education bureau, and the government. No one communicates with us at all … the police came here simply to prevent us from protests.”

Hu Xijin, a former editor of the Chinese tabloid Global Times, urged officials to strengthen communications with the victims’ families.

Another local resident said the censors blocked her social media post that included video clips. The woman, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals, added that her daughter’s classmate died in the incident.

Roof Collapsed Middle School Gymnasium In China
Rescuers conduct a search and rescue operation at the site of a middle school gymnasium roof collapse in Qiqihar, in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, on July 24, 2023. (Zhang Tao/Xinhua via AP)

Such expressions of anger and defiance are usually quickly suppressed by the authorities as Beijing worries over social unrest. The Chinese Communist Party allows no challenges to its authority and seeks to keep total control over the press and social media.

A preliminary investigation shows construction work at the school was the likely cause, after workers stored materials on the gym’s roof that absorbed rainwater, state media Xinhua reported.

Construction and industrial accidents are regular occurrences in China, largely resulting from companies ignoring safety standards and corruption or a lack of diligence on the part of local government agencies.

Those problems are especially acute in second- and third-tier cities such as Qiqihar, which lies in the Chinese rustbelt province of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia and has seen large-scale economic decline and outward migration in recent years.

Hong Ning and The Associated Press contributed to this report.