Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 16:57 UK

China reins in quake school fury

Michael Bristow
BBC News, Dujiangyan

Grieving mother over child's coffin
Hundreds of parents lost children at Juyuan Middle School

China appears to be reining in anger over the number of schools that collapsed in last month's earthquake.

Officials initially promised a full investigation into the issue, but now seem to be discouraging parents from venting their frustration.

Parents are thought to have been prevented from filing a lawsuit against the principal of one collapsed school where hundreds died.

And officials seem to be attempting to tone down public expressions of grief.

Thousands of schoolchildren died because their classrooms collapsed around them when the earthquake struck last month.

Only buildings to fall

In some districts, schools were the only buildings to fall down in the quake, which killed more than 69,000 people.

Officials pledged to allow a proper investigation, but now appear to be backtracking.

They went too far - they have no consideration
Xu Yan, parent of child killed in earthquake

One example of this came on Tuesday when scores of parents went to Dujiangyan People's Court.

They went to file a lawsuit, reportedly against the headmaster of the city's Juyuan Middle School, which collapsed killing hundreds of pupils.

Eyewitnesses say they were prevented from handing over their document and were dragged away by police officers.

Police denied the reports when the BBC visited the court later in the day, but about 100 officers were stationed inside the building.

Wreaths removed

Since Monday, two of the city's collapsed schools - scenes of moving memorial services - have been sealed off to most people.

Grieving parents say wreaths left on the rubble at Xinjian Primary School were taken away by officials.

"They went too far. They have no consideration," said Xu Yan, whose 11-year-old daughter Huang Ruiqi died when the school collapsed.

No senior official was available to explain why the wreaths were taken away.

But Zhu Lin, who works for the local foreign affairs office, said: "The government wants to find a better way to solve the problem."

The wreaths were put back after an outcry, but banners calling for a thorough investigation into why the school collapsed were not.

Nationally, state-controlled media outlets have been told to rein in coverage of the schools issue.

But having been promised answers, parents will not be easily put off.

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