Greed killed children, China’s quake zone survivors say

JUYUAN, China, May 17, 2008 (AFP) – Local residents have a simple answer for why the four-storey Juyuan Middle School collapsed during the China quake — killing hundreds of children — while nearby buildings remained standing. Greed.

“Look at the building materials they used,” said one resident in this rural community in southwest China. “The cement wasn’t mixed with water in the right proportion. There are not enough steel beams. The sand isn’t clean.”

Whether short cuts were taken to build schools has become a pressing issue following Monday’s quake, as China grapples with the reality that so many children were among the more than 50,000 people thought killed in the disaster.

Close to 7,000 schools — a disproportionately high number of buildings — were destroyed in Sichuan province by the 7.9-magnitude quake, which struck in the afternoon when many students were in class or taking their daily naps.

Housing Minister Jiang Weixin on Friday announced a probe had been launched into whether shoddy work linked to corruption was to blame for the large number of schools toppled by the quake.

“Unfortunately we can’t rule out that there may have been situations where people scrimped on workmanship and stinte