Officials chopped after kids found dead

By Liu Linlin Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-20 23:50:04

Eight officials in Bijie, Guizhou Province, were suspended or sacked after five boys were found dead in a large trash container on Friday, city authorities said on Tuesday.

The five victims were identified by local police as being siblings and cousins, the eldest named as 13-year-old Tao Zhonglin and the youngest 9-year-old Tao Bo. They started a fire to warm themselves up inside the trash container in Bijie's Qixingguan district but died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The deputy chiefs of Qixingguan district, Tang Xingquan and Gao Shoujun, were suspended and investigated. Six more officials from the education and civil affairs bureaus have been fired after the tragic accident.

The deaths stirred up debate as to why governments are not giving more support to abandoned or left-behind children.

Bijie's spokesperson said that the city will improve both its school management and its social aid to children in need.

"Kids like the Tao cousins are quite common in Guizhou Province. The parents of many children are migrant workers. The children are left at home with their grandparents or sometimes without anyone to look after them," Tian Jie, Guizhou program director for Dishui Charity Association, told the Global Times.

The five boys went out to play three weeks ago. When they failed to return, their families and teachers looked for them but had no idea as to their fates until the local police notified them, Tao Jinyou, father of Tao Zhonglin, said.

Tian said that local officials and teachers went door-to-door at the beginning of every semester to persuade children to go to school, but said many kids still tended to cut school or drop out to work.

"Firing officials is not enough. More efforts are needed from government and NGOs to make school attractive to children and warn them of the dangers of the outside world," Tian said.

Xu Wenqing, a senior program officer with the United Nations Children's Fund, on Tuesday called for more subsidies from governments to children without parental care.

"If local governments can give subsidies to children without parents around, their relatives will be more willing to help with the money. And more social workers are needed to help those children before they end up wandering on the street," Xu told a press conference.

After the tragedy, the Bijie city will establish a fund to support the left-behind children, searching for and giving help to every left-behind child in the city, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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