China says 5,335 children died in quake

Thursday 07 May 2009 15.05
Sichuan - Relatives mourn for the students killed in quake
Sichuan - Relatives mourn for the students killed in quake

China has put the official number of dead and missing schoolchildren from last year's devastating Sichuan earthquake at 5,335.

The figure is far lower than the number compiled from news reports at the time.

The number was announced by Tu Wentao, the province's education department head, at a news conference in the provincial capital, Chengdu.

He attributed the year-long delay in releasing the tally of dead or missing students to the need to compile figures from various government agencies.

'These numbers were reached through legal methods. We have wide agreement on these numbers,' Mr Tu said.

Many parents blame shoddy buildings for the deaths, pointing to apartments and government offices that survived while nearby schools fell.

The 12 May earthquake killed around 80,000 people in total.

A compilation of reports from Xinhua news agency and local newspapers at the time put the number of dead and missing children and teachers at around 9,000.