BEIJING: China on Sunday marked the fifth anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake, which killed more than 80,000 but some said questions remained over the thousands of children who died as their schools collapsed.
The 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck the southwestern province of Sichuan on the afternoon of May 12, 2008, with its epicenter at Wenchuan county. Another 4.45 million were hurt in China’s worst quake in more than three decades.
The mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, the People’s Daily, praised government efforts towards reconstruction but outspoken Internet commentators remembered the thousands of children who died.
“It’s the fifth anniversary of the earthquake as well as Mother’s Day. Hard to forget those young faces lying under the school buildings,” said Fengguo De Wuhou 1117 on a microblog.
“Five years and the promise to thoroughly investigate the ‘tofu-built’ projects in the quake area still lingers around the ears,” said the posting, using a Chinese phrase for shoddy construction.
Thousands of children died and 7,000 schools were badly damaged in the earthquake, triggering accusations of poor construction and corruption, especially as some other buildings nearby remained standing.
Calls for transparency from the government on how many students were killed led to beatings and arrests of activists, including dissident artist Ai Weiwei.
The China Daily newspaper said the country had learned lessons from the disaster as schools and hospitals were able to withstand another quake in the region last month.
That 6.6-magnitude tremor centered in Sichuan’s Lushan county killed 196 people, with 21 missing and more than 13,000 injured, according to state media.