Fri, Jul 23, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Heat kills Shanghai trainee

MILITARY EDUCATION The university student was required to endure days of training which university officials defended as the result of 'careful research'

AP , SHANGHAI AND BEIJING

A 19-year-old female university student collapsed and died in Shanghai after days of military training in hot summer weather, while dozens of others complained that they couldn't take the heat, state media reported yesterday.

Chinese university students are required to attend military training during the summer. Exercises began in Shanghai last week, despite unusually high daytime temperatures approaching 40?C.

The university student fainted in her dormitory on Wednesday morning after five straight days of exercises and marching drills on an unshaded sports field, the Shanghai Daily reported.

The student's name was not released and reporters were barred from visiting the school, the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, the newspaper said.

The Education Commission referred questions to an official who wasn't immediately available.

Dozens of students have sought medical treatment for dizziness, nausea and sun blisters, the Shanghai Youth Daily reported. It said some of the military personnel running the exercises also fell sick.

The students rise at 6am for an hour of exercises and after breakfast go through four hours of marching drills in the morning and five-and-a-half hours of drills later in the day. The grueling program ends at 10pm.

University officials defended the training schedule, saying it was devised after careful research, though they admitted that the heat might be too much for some students, the reports said.

Meanwhile, more deaths were reported from summer rains that have killed nearly 400 people in the south. Authorities warned that the populous northeast faces torrential downpours in coming weeks.

"More disastrous flooding or waterlogging is likely to occur," the China Daily quoted Zhang Guocai, an official with the China Meteorological Administration, as saying.

The latest reported deaths were in central China, where the official Xinhua News Agency said flooding killed 12 people in Hunan Province.

That raised the number of fatalities reported in flooding, landslides, lightning and other rain-related disasters so far this season to at least 396 in areas throughout China's south.

In Hunan, more than 350,000 people were stranded by rising rivers and lakes, Xinhua said. It said the province's Dongting Lake, China's biggest body of fresh water, and other reservoirs and lakes were still rising.

The toll this year is running at about half the rate of previous summers, Xinhua said, citing deputy director Zhang Zhitong of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters in Beijing.

Rainfall in the south has been 20 percent to 50 percent above normal levels, Xinhua said. It said some areas have received 259mm of rain since late last month.

Storms are expected to dump up to 120mm along the Yellow River in northern China and in the northeast, the China Daily quoted Zhang as saying.

Local officials were ordered earlier this week to evacuate people from low-lying areas that might be flooded after river dikes are dynamited to lower water levels and protect cities.

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