China on Thursday released its first official tally of students who died or went missing in last year's Sichuan earthquake, but denied allegations of corruption and shoddy construction by grieving parents.
Officials said 5,335 students were found dead or went missing among the 86,633 dead in Sichuan province in the massive May 12 earthquake and another 546 have been certified as disabled from injuries.
The numbers have gone through several checks by our department,” said Tu Wentao, head of the Sichuan's provincial educational department at a press conference in Chengdu.
Parents who lost their children charged that government and contractors for negligence and corruption. Many students were crushed when thousands of classrooms collapsed while other buildings around them remained intact.
According to our investigations and samples we have taken, we have not found any case of buildings that collapsed in the earthquake zone mainly because of construction quality, Yang Hongbo, head of Sichuan's construction department ,said at the news conference.
He said once there is concrete evidence to prove that problems exist in building designs and construction, relevant departments will investigate according to law.
But parents insisted that the schools crumbled so easily because of corruption and mismanagement. We just want to ask for justice, but we can't do anything now, said one parent, whose daughter died when the school Fuxin No.2 primary school collapsed.
We've gone to the village government, the county, to the city, and no one has given us a clear answer on who is responsible, the mother of a teenage boy killed when Dongqi Middle School in Hanwang collapsed said at an interview on Thursday. We want to get an explanation. But if we complain, they say we are breaking the law.
If they didn't do something wrong, if they didn't have a guilty conscience, they would let us complain, say the father of the teenage boy.
Authorities began a count of victims within hours after the quake happened but until now they revealed student casualty figures, ahead of Tuesday's one-year anniversary of the quake.