China school stampede triggered by lost shoe

A young girl's lost shoe triggered a stampede that injured dozens of students at an elementary school in western China, state media reported Wednesday.

Forty-one students were hurt at the No. 5 Elementary School in Aksu city on Monday after an 8-year-old girl, identified only as Madina, bent down to search for a shoe that fell off as a crowd of children descended a stairwell, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Students rushing down to the playground then piled on top of her, one after another, it said.

Rezya Turusun, a second grader recovering in the hospital, said she fell and was buried by up to six other kids.

"It was so frightening, everybody was crying," Rezya said.

Xinhua reported the teacher who was guiding the students down the stairs tried to pull Madina to safety but was pushed down herself.

Madina, the worst injured of the children, remains in stable condition in the hospital's intensive care unit. More than 30 other students remain hospitalized, the report said.

School safety in China came under scrutiny earlier this year when a string of stabbings around the country killed and injured dozens of schoolchildren. The attacks prompted Chinese authorities to tighten security at schools.