BEIJING (AP) — Five middle school students in eastern China were killed Monday after a wall collapsed on them, local authorities and state media said, raising concerns about shoddy school construction in the country.
The wall fell on the schoolgirls as they gathered on the sidelines of an outdoor basketball game at Tongren Middle School in the city of Huaibei, the Anhui Administration of Work Safety said on its official website.
Another student was injured, and the cause of the incident was under investigation, the provincial agency said.
State broadcaster China Central Television said the five girls killed were resting at the foot of the wall when it collapsed.
China's official Xinhua News Agency said rescue workers had to use their bare hands rather than machinery to dig through the rubble to try to rescue the girls because several students were buried under the wall.
Some reports suggested that the wall fell because it was in disrepair, raising concerns that authorities have been negligent with school construction.
Shoddy construction was blamed for the high death toll among schoolchildren in a 2008 earthquake in the southwestern province of Sichuan that left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing.