From Thursday, classes will resume for Indian medical students in Chengdu who have been afraid to return to their dormitories since a powerful earthquake struck Sichuan in southwest China last week.
Officials from the Indian embassy in Beijing and the consulate in southern Guangzhou visited them on Wednesday. “Our officials met the students, they are safe,” said an embassy spokesperson. “They are being looked after.”
But three students who spoke to Hindustan Times said they remained anxious to return home after a week spent on the damp football field or crowding together on the ground floor. “We may skip the June exams and return soon,” said a third-year student of medicine from Andhra Pradesh, requesting anonymity. “We are afraid to stay here. There was an aftershock this morning too.”
By Wednesday, the death toll from the 8.0-magnitude earthquake was 41,353. Students said Sichuan University told them to return to the dormitories and resume studies. An embassy official pointed out that the exams cannot be re-scheduled just for Indian students, since Chinese students are staying on.
Students form the majority of the Indian diaspora in Sichuan, but there is no exact database on them. Thousands of aspiring Indian doctors have flocked to Chinese universities since 2003, when they began offering easy admissions and low tuition fees of an average $2,000-3,000 (Rs 80,000-Rs 1.2 lakh) per year, for an MBBS degree not recognised in India.