41 dead as school collapses in China

An explosion of fireworks may have caused the collapse of a Chinese school which killed at least 41 people, officials said on Wednesday. The toll was expected to rise after the blast which erupted in the central part of the two-storey building where an estimated 200 schoolchildren and teachers were working in the small town of Tanbu in the eastern province of Jiangxi. More than 30 people were injured - burned, crushed or both - in addition to the 41 dead, hospital officials are quoted by Reuters as saying. "We transferred nine seriously injured to county hospitals and there might be one or two more deaths among those whose conditions are more grave," said a hospital official in Tanbu, which is in Wanzai county. County officials said they believed fireworks were responsible for the blast and were awaiting confirmation from investigators. China has suffered a series of such disasters in recent years. In December, 309 people were killed in a Christmas night dance hall blaze in Luoyang which was ignited by welders who fled without raising the alarm. Earlier that month, at least 11 people were killed in the southern town of Dongguan when a one-storey shopping mall collapsed under the weight of building to add extra floors.

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