Gymnasium Roof Collapses During Girls’ Volleyball Practice, Killing At Least 11 In China: Officials

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At least 11 people are dead after a gymnasium roof collapsed during a middle school girls’ volleyball practice in China on July 23, officials say.

The incident occurred at a school gymnasium in Heilongjiang province Sunday, CNN reported. Nineteen people were in the gym for practice, including 17 girls and two coaches, according to the outlet. While officials have not released the victims’ ages, local media spoke to parents who indicated their daughters were 15- and 16- years old, respectively, according to the outlet.

Preliminary investigations indicated the collapse may have been caused by construction materials left behind by construction workers working on a neighboring building, CNN reported. Recent rains caused the material, perlite, to become heavier, likely leading to the collapse, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Roof Collapse Injures 14 People Near The Ohio State University)

Parents of the victims are reportedly angry with how authorities handled the tragic incident. “They tell me my daughter is gone but we never got to see the child. All the children had their faces covered with mud and blood when they were sent to the hospital. I pleaded, please let me identify the child. What if that wasn’t my child?” one father said, according to The Guardian.

Local authorities said the collapse brought certain issues to light, such as “inadequate investigation of potential safety hazards” and “inadequate safety supervision,” CNN reported. The tragedy had officials vowing to adhere more strictly to a national safety campaign, known as the “2023 special action plan,” as they move forward, according to the outlet.

“We will reflect deeply and learn lessons and comprehensively and deeply carry out the ’2023 special action plan’ for investigating and rectifying major safety hazards,” officials said, CNN reported.