At 6:15 am, what’s being described as a stampede broke out at Qinji elementary school in Xuej township in Laohekou, a county-level city in Xiangyang, Hubei province. The accident was caused by a dormitory gate collapsing, according to one report. Another article from China News Service says students were on their way to morning exercises when they found themselves squeezed into a crowded stairwell.
Four students were killed and at least 18 injured.
More details as they become available. Here’s Xinhua’s English news brief for now.
UPDATE, 3/4, 4:40 pm: Via Xinhua:
Here’s how it happened:
The accident occurred around 6:15 a.m. Wednesday, when two teachers who were on duty failed to open the gate at 6:00 a.m. as scheduled. When it did open, a large crowd of students that had gathered around the gate rushed in simultaneously, triggering a stampede.
There is only one entrance on the ground floor of the school’s temporary dormitory, which used to be a four-story classroom.
“Five students were lying on the ground after the stampede. Teachers were trying to revive them,” said Xu, a 9-year-old student at the Qinji Primary School in Xueji Township in the city of Laohekou.
The fatal school stampede occurred after hundreds of pupils were crowded at the only gate of the school’s temporary dorm.
Some have blamed the incident on excessive rural school mergers that have left rural students with little choice but to attend crowded schools far from their homes.