Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

China students killed in school stampede

An injured student from Yucai Middle School, Xiangxiang, Hunan province, China, describes the stampede to a police officer - 8 December 2009
A doctor said most of those hurt had bruising to their chest, arms and face

Eight students were killed and another 26 injured in a stampede in a school stairwell in Hunan province, central China, state media have said.

About 400 students made for one narrow stairway after evening classes when one fell, setting off the crush, China Central TV said.

Seven boys and one girl aged 11 to 14 from Yucai Middle School in Xiangxiang city were reported killed.

Eight other students were being treated in hospital for their injuries.

The accident happened on Monday evening but the school was open for classes as usual on Tuesday.

Pictures on China Central TV showed the blood-stained stairway where the stampede occurred cordoned off. The state-run Xinhua news agency said it was less than 1.5m (5ft) wide.

One 14-year-old boy said he saw students below him on the staircase stumble and fall before he too was pushed by those behind him.

Stairwell at Yucai Middle School, Xiangxiang, Hunan province - 8 December 2009
The stairwell measures less than 1.5m (5ft) wide

"I supported myself with my right hand to avoid injury, and my head leaned against someone's feet. Another student fell on top of me," he told Xinhua.

"I was scared and couldn't move, until I saw a torch light and knew someone had come to our rescue."

Most of the injured students suffered bruising to their arms, chests and faces, a doctor told Xinhua.

Yucai Middle School is a privately-run boarding school with about 3,500 students.

The five-storey school building has a number of stairwells but the bulk of the students leaving evening classes chose the one closest to their dormitory building to avoid Monday night's heavy rain, Xinhua said.

Officials in Xiangxiang have dismissed the head of the city's education bureau, the news agency said.

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