More than 50 children were taken to the hospital Tuesday after a deranged man seeking “revenge on society” broke into a kindergarten in southwest China and attacked them with sodium hydroxide, a highly corrosive chemical also known as caustic soda, according to multiple reports.
Two students suffered serious burns while three teachers and 48 other children sustained minor to moderate injuries, the South China Morning Post reported.
The 23-year-old man, who was arrested minutes after the attack, invaded the school by cutting wires and climbing into a wall, the Hong Kong-based newspaper said. The horrific incident happened around 3:30 p.m. in Kaiyuan, a city in Yunnan province.
The suspect’s motive was not immediately clear, but authorities told local media that he apparently cited a desire to retaliate against society.
Sodium hydroxide can cause irritation or burns to the eyes and skin, though the level of harm depends on the dose and duration of exposure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The chemical is typically used to make soaps, explosives, paper and other products.
Tuesday’s attack comes just two months after eight students were stabbed to death inside an elementary school in central China.