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A fire drill that went awry in a middle school in China has sent 193 students to hospital, including nine in critical condition, Chinese papers are reporting.
The school in Tianshui, in the northwestern city of Gansu, ran a fire and air raid drill last Friday with 412 students participating. It used artificially generated smoke, but the smoke machines malfunctioned and produced too much smoke, CCTV News says.
After inhaling the smoke, some students fainted, and others started vomiting and coughing, with some complaining of breathing problems.
The school’s management has been condemned by the provincial authorities, which called for better management of future drills. A user on Weibo was quoted by CCTV saying that the disaster indicated a "disregard for human life".
But a local paper, the Lanzhou Evening News pointed out that the drill went wrong because some of the students failed to heed (link in Chinese) earlier instructions to bring wet tissues and other supplies, which resulted in them not being able to block the smoke from their faces during evacuation.
Another Weibo user, "small deer", who claims to have just graduated from the school, defended the teachers in a post (link in Chinese), saying the students didn’t listen to the instructions and the school shouldn’t be blamed.
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