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Quake count: How China's death toll of schoolchildren adds up

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China revealed its long-awaited official count of schoolchildren killed in last year’s earthquake Thursday.

But the modest, eyebrow-raising figure – 5,335 students, of nearly 87,000 dead – is unlikely to satisfy bereaved parents and others who have urged the government to tell the truth about how many children died last year and why so many schools collapsed when surrounding buildings didn't. (Read the Monitor’s coverage about parents’ push for accountability here and here.)

Let’s compare this with other figures the government has put out:

Some 3,340 schools still need rebuilding, according to the Sichuan Province education department, which also announced the death toll. That means, for every school that fell during the quake, only one or two children were killed – even though a much higher number should have been in class when the quake struck that Monday afternoon.

And with an official overall estimate of nearly 87,000 dead or missing (but presumed dead), that means only 6 percent of people killed last year were schoolchildren. Yet students made up 16 percent of Sichuan’s population as of 2007, according to official estimates cited by Time magazine.


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