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Teachers rescue students from quake debris

world Updated: Apr 16, 2010 15:29 IST

Calamity at times brings the best out of human relationships. Teachers of a primary school in China's quake hit Qinghai province cleared the rubble of their collapsed school with their bare hands and saved 61 students.

Sixty-one students at Yushu No 3 primary school had been saved as of Wednesday night in Yashu town, but 34 died before help reached them, China's 'Youth Times' reported on Thursday.

"The other 27 students gathered on the campus playground, but the wounded kids couldn't get immediate treatment. We just don't have such medical supplies here," said school Principal Nyima Gyaltsen, adding that more students might still be buried in the ruins.

Students became targets of the quake as it hit around 7.40 am, just as they converged to attend their schools.

The quake killed at least 56 students. Another 40 students trapped in the debris have a slim chance of survival, said Xiao Yuping, deputy head of the education department of the prefecture.

Nyima Gyaltsen said classes would not normally have begun until about 9 am, but some students had already arrived at school for early morning sessions when the quake hit.

"The kids were sitting in the classrooms in the one-storey building or reading near the school wall. They were buried under the collapsed buildings or walls," Wen Ming, the vice-principal, was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.

"Most of us had no tools. There was just no way to find enough tools on campus. The ruins scratched many teachers' hands, leaving bloodstains everywhere," he said.

Large-scale excavating machines are required to save lives, said Luo Huining, governor of Qinghai, at the rescue scene where about 20 students are buried at the Yushu Ethnic Comprehensive Vocational School, late on Wednesday.

A total of 17 students had been saved there. A three-storey building collapsed, leaving only one story above ground, State broadcaster CCTV reported on Thursday.

Zhang Xiaoqin, an official with the local fire department working on the rescue, said the students were in a morning session during the quake. He arrived with his colleagues around 9 am.

"We have only basic equipment. Right now we're moving large floor slabs with machines, then soldiers search manually," Zhang said.