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July 25, 2011

Why Chinese Schools Collapsed While Office Buildings Stood

This is just an outrageous story that once again brings into question, what exactly is going on in China. I know that there will be fatalities in an earthquake but I was wondering about the materials used to build the buildings in China. Judging from the extensive damage I figured that none of the buildings were constructed using materials that would cut down on damage during an earthquake. It was a sad thought to consider that such technology was not available for building the schools and homes in the towns that now look like war zones.

Now I hear that there are some government buildings that are still standing or in decent shape while all of the schools collapsed. There is now speculation that the schools may have been constructed with cheap material while the government buildings were constructed with stronger material. The government says they will investigate and the penalty will be death.

I am not against the death penalty for horrific crimes that are committed but I think that there is some responsibility beyond the builder in this particular case. Someone has to be aware of the building materials that are being used and whether or not those materials are sturdy enough to survive an earthquake. I do not know what measures must be taken in order for builders to get a building permit but it seems that they would have to clear the plans with someone. What is the chain of command when it comes to getting a building permit? Where does the blame truly lie?

Hundreds of children, some of them the only children the parents have lie crushed underneath rumble. High schools, elementary schools, kindergartens toppled with all of the students inside. How can you justify not protecting your youth? Who let these buildings be constructed with cheap material and what people were so cold to build these schools with cheap materials? There is no punishment strong enough for those responsible. Their deaths will not bring those thousands of small bodies back to life. Now I know how those massive cities the size of Manhattan, New York were built so quickly. Massive cities and tall new buildings is not progress. Progress is making sure that people have food to eat and that their children are safe when they go to school.

Over 4,000 aftershocks have rocked the already destroyed area of China where the earthquake hit. Rescue efforts are being interrupted and there are entire towns that are no longer viable. If there was any way that some of this could have been prevented and it was not, I have to question someone other than the people that built the buildings. Surely there are government officials that were aware of these building practices. If that is the case, is it really productive to have the government investigate? I think not. However it is not likely that there is a neutral group that does not favor the government of the builders to intervene. We will have to rely on the information that the government gives.

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