China confirmed on Thursday that 5,335 students died or went missing in last year’s Sichuan earthquake, but denied allegations of corruption and poor construction, AP reported. The disclosure of the number of fatalities – which some observers claim is an effort to stem ongoing discontent regarding the government’s response to the disaster – was made by Tu Wentao, head of Sichuan province’s education department. Tu also revealed that a further 546 children have been left disabled by injuries sustained in the earthquake. Yang Hongbo, head of Sichuan’s construction department, said no cases had emerged of “buildings that collapsed in the earthquake zone mainly because of construction quality.” Parents insist that the schools crumbled so easily because corruption and mismanagement led to slipshod construction methods. Foreign journalists traveling to the earthquake zone have complained of harassment. The vice head of the province’s Communist Party propaganda department accused the journalists of trying to incite insurrection against the government.
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