There are a lot of jokes to be made about Chinese fire drills, but this isn’t one of them. At a middle school in northwest China, a fire and air raid drill that included realistic smoke machines went wrong, and 193 students ended up in the hospital. Among those, nine are reportedly in critical condition. The machines that generated the artificial smoke went haywire and produced too much smoke, causing fainting, vomiting, coughing, and breathing problems.

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The drill took place on Friday at a school in Tianshui, in the northwestern city of Gansu, where school officials simulated emergency conditions and attempted to practice evacuation procedures with 412 students. Nearly half of the students were hospitalized after inhaling the artificial smoke, which made them ill. Despite how clear cut the disaster sounds, there are a lot of disagreements about which party is really to blame. Some are chastising the school officials for failing to properly manage the smoke-producing equipment used during the simulation.

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Others actually blame the students. The Lanzhou Evening News, a local outfit, claims students didn’t follow instructions given prior to the drill; they were supposed to bring wet tissues and other supplies to aid them during the simulated emergency. Because some students were ill-equipped, they weren’t able to block the smoke from their faces during the practice evacuation. That kind of thinking, of course, leads directly to another question. In the event of a real emergency, with no advance warning, presumably 100 percent of the students would not have a wet tissue on hand. Does that mean that even more children would end up hospitalized if an actual fire or explosion were to happen?

Via Mashable

Images via CCTVNews/Facebook