AT LEAST 11 students have been reported dead after a school gym roof collapsed in China.
The incident took place at No 34 Middle School in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang province, where the girls volleyball team had been training.
There were 19 people in the stadium at the time of the collapse, according to local media, which reported four people had managed to escape.
Officials said rescue efforts were complete but did not reveal details of the victims.
Several Chinese media outlets reported that most were students.
After the collapse on Sunday, a video showed the roof of the reinforced-concrete gymnasium completely destroyed.
A witness told local media that there was “nowhere to hide” from the overhead collapse inside the gym.
China Youth Daily reported that the girls were training over the summer holidays because they were expected to go to Hubei province for upcoming games.
The official WeChat account of Qiqihar No 34 Middle School posted an article just a day before the incident celebrating the girls’ volleyball team taking second place in the Heilongjiang provincial student games.
According to local media, a construction company overseeing a new building next door to the school had stored perlite building materials on the roof of the gym before it collapsed after heavy rain.
South China Morning Post reported that an engineering expert who teaches at China Agricultural University said on his personal social media page that perlite could weigh ten, or even 25, times its original weight when soaked with rainwater, “greatly increasing roof loads and potentially leading to the collapse”.
A family member told local reporters that his niece was a member of the school’s female volleyball team and was training at the gym at the time of the incident.
In a video that went viral on social media, a furious father said that the government sent cops to keep a watch on parents but did not send anyone to update them about their kids.
“They tell me my daughter is gone but we never got to see the child. All the children had their faces covered with mud and blood when they were sent to the hospital. I pleaded, please let me identify the child. What if that wasn’t my child?” the man said.
The incident is still reportedly being investigated.
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