Dozens of kids injured in China school stampede

A mad rush to the playground turned into a stampede that left dozens of elementary schoolchildren hurt and one in critical condition in western China, state media and officials said.

Students at the No. 5 Elementary School in Aksu city were rushing downstairs for after-class exercises Monday when some students fell, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Other students then pushed to squeeze through the narrow stairway, trampling on those that had fallen.

A guardrail also collapsed, sending some students falling into the stairwell, it said.

Xinhua reported that 41 students were admitted to Aksu's No. 1 People's Hospital for treatment, with one child in critical condition from internal injuries and six seriously injured. No deaths were reported.

An official with the Aksu government's propaganda office, who gave only his surname, Lu, said an investigation was under way. It was unclear whether teachers or other adults were present during the incident.

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. Police and guards were posted at entrances and video surveillance and intruder alarms were installed on some school premises.