World News

China teacher sacked for running from quake school

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese high school teacher has been sacked and denounced by local media and Internet users for fleeing a classroom before his students during last month’s devastating earthquake.

Fan Meizhong, a Chinese-language teacher at a private high school in quake-ravaged Dujiangyan in southwest Sichuan province, has been branded “running Fan” on Internet chat-rooms and come under fire for defending his actions online in a lengthy post.

The 8.0 magnitude earthquake on May 12 killed more than 70,000 people, including thousands of children at their desks in what many parents believe were shoddily made school buildings.

"At such a life-or-death moment, I would only consider sacrificing my life for my daughter. I would not do it for anyone else, even my mother," Fan wrote on popular online portal (

“In a flash I felt it -- a big earthquake! Then I charged to the building’s stairs,” Fan said, adding that he was the first person to emerge from the school on to the soccer pitch.

None of the children in his literature class died in the quake.

China’s education ministry confirmed that Fan had been dismissed, but said it was the school’s decision and denied media reports that it had issued a special order demanding it. Fan said he had not ruled out suing the authorities over the decision.

Fan’s account has enraged China, as it struggles to rebuild damaged cities and provide housing for millions of victims displaced by the quake.

“I know many teachers died protecting children during the earthquake... In this long essay, I can’t see any ‘person’ here, I just see a big ‘me’,” a post in response to Fan’s account said.

Despite a massive outpouring of charity in the wake of the quake, Chinese bloggers have been quick to round on those deemed unsympathetic.

Movie actress Sharon Stone drew scathing criticism late last month after suggesting that “karma” might have played a part in causing the earthquake after China’s crackdown on unrest in ethnic Tibetan areas in March.