Earthquake ceremonies banned in China

PARENTS of the children who died during last year's earthquake in China have been threatened with jail if they hold commemorative ceremonies on May 12, the first anniversary if the disaster.

The Government said 5335 schoolchildren died when the 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit the south-western Sichuan province. Most perished when their schools collapsed.

Anger over the Government's failure to hold an inquiry into why almost 10,000 schools were destroyed or damaged has been increasing as the anniversary nears. The earthquake killed 70,000, and 18,000 are missing.

Some parents have been detained in so-called "black jails", or unofficial prisons, for up to 21 days. They have been threatened with longer jail terms if they commemorate their children's deaths.