Seven officials punished over fatal school stampede in China

A relative of one of the victims in grief over the tragedy.

CHINA - Kunming city sacked two officials and suspended five others over negligence after a stampede left six pupils dead and 26 injured at a primary school.

A deputy head of the city's education bureau and a vice governor of Panlong District have been suspended due to "serious dereliction of duty," while another three people including the head of Mingtong Primary School have also been suspended, the local government said at a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

Another two people in charge of school safety, including a deputy head of the school, have been removed from their posts, it added.

Initial investigation showed showed that the stampede occurred after a nap period, when students were walking downstairs in the dormitory building, said Jiao Lin, Panlong district mayor.

A teacher placed two cotton cushions used for gym class, 200 cm long, 150 cm wide and 30 cm high, against the wall in the corridor of the building. One of the cushions slipped to the ground and blocked the way on Friday, tripping some students. Other students following closely behind, but unaware of what had happened, rushed down the narrow staircase, causing a stampede.

Most of the victims were in grade one and two.

Mingtong Primary School is located in the district of the capital city in Southwest China's Yunnan province. Founded in 1955, it is one of the best schools in the area.

After the incident, Kunming officials demanded that all schools in the city be thoroughly checked to remove any safety hazards.