150 students ill in China after breathing in smoke at drill

BEIJING (AP) — More than 150 students fell ill in northwest China after breathing in smoke from a mock air defense evacuation drill, state media reported Saturday night.

Smoke was used to make Friday’s drill at Yifu Experimental Middle School in Gansu province more realistic, but the volume generated was too large, said the official Xinhua News Agency. It said Friday’s drill was jointly organized by the school and Tianshui city’s Civil Air Defense Office.

The Gansu Daily reported that more than 150 students had been treated, with complaints including coughing, vomiting, fever and bleeding in the digestive tract. It said 142 were still under observation Saturday and nine were in serious condition.

Calls to the school and authorities in Tianshui rang unanswered Sunday.

Cities across China, including Beijing and Shanghai, sounded air raid alarms Saturday as part of an annual education day to raise awareness of national defense.

It was unclear if the drill was part of that or sirens and gatherings across the country Friday to commemorate the 84th anniversary of the 1931 “Mukden Incident” that led to the Japanese occupation of China’s northeast and eventually the brutal invasion and conquest of much of the country.

China has been increasingly drawing attention to Japan’s wartime aggression as it seeks to stir up nationalism and highlight its role fighting Japan during World War II, which it feels has not been sufficiently recognized by the West.

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