Officials say a landslide claimed the lives of 19 people, including 18 students, in the Southwest part of China on Thursday morning.
According to BBC News, the landslide, triggered by sustained rains, hit the Tiantou Primary School and nearby houses in the country’s Yunnan province, where a pair of earthquakes last month killed 81 people and injured hundreds.
While the students normally would not have been at school on Thursday — as China is on a week-long national holiday — Xinhua reports they had been attending classes at the time of the incident in order to make up for school delayed by September’s quakes.
“Couldn’t they just take time making up the missed classes?” said a user of Sina.com’s micro-blogging service in the wake of the tragedy. “Officials, schools, and teachers are too eager for quick success and instant benefits. They are the biggest killers.”
About 2,000 local people, medics, police and military personnel were trying to rescue the victims, the Yil-iang county government said on its website.
Families who lost children in the landslide were each granted 20,000 yuan (3,160 US dollars) as condolences.
Chinese officials say that in addition to burying the school in Yunnan, the landslide also destroyed two farmhouses and blocked a nearby river, forcing the evacuation of 800 people.
News.com.au notes that mountainous southwestern China is prone to deadly landslides, a threat worsened by frequent seismic activity.
The 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which killed more than 80,000 people, triggered giant landslides that left whole mountainsides scarred.
Raw video footage of rescue operations in the aftermath of the Yunnan landslide can be viewed below: