China bus crash kills 20
A small 9-seater bus, from a local kindergarten, was carrying 64 people when the accident happened on Wednesday morning in Gansu province.
Wed, Nov 16 2011 at 1:04 PM
BUSES: Children are often crammed into buses for their journeys to school in China, especially in rural areas, despite strict regulations on such practices. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
Twenty people, 18 of them children, were killed in a head-on collision between a hugely overloaded school bus and a truck in northwestern China Wednesday, local authorities and state media said.
The small nine-seater bus, from a local kindergarten, was carrying 64 people when the accident happened on Wednesday morning in Gansu province, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing local authorities.
Children are often crammed into buses for their journeys to school in China, especially in rural areas, despite strict regulations on such practices.
In September Chinese police reportedly charged the driver of a school minibus with "seriously overloading" his vehicle after it was stopped with 64 children on board.
The bus was built to carry eight passengers and most of the seats had been removed to cram many times that number of people on board, Chinese state media said.
Two adults — reportedly a driver and a teacher — were among those killed in Wednesday's crash, an official surnamed Du from the Gansu safety bureau told AFP.
Another 44 people were injured, with 12 in a serious condition, China Central Television said. Earlier reports had said 19 people died in the accident.
The driver of the truck has been detained by police, the People's Daily said on its website.
Televised video of the scene showed a badly damaged orange bus — its front section crushed from the impact — and a red truck on a road. The vehicles were facing each other and were surrounded by debris.
The injured have been taken to the local hospital and the cause of the accident is under investigation, reports said.
The fatal crash was the latest on China's notoriously dangerous roads, where drivers often flout traffic safety laws.
At least 35 people were killed and 18 injured last month when a bus rolled after colliding with a car on a highway near the northern port city of Tianjin.
In September, nine people were killed and more than 20 injured when a passenger bus rear-ended a cement truck on a highway in eastern China's Anhui province.
Almost 70,000 people died in road accidents in China in 2010 — around 190 fatalities a day — according to police statistics.
That was down from nearly 99,000 fatalities stemming from 450,000 accidents in 2005, when Chinese police say the nation's road carnage peaked.
But a study published earlier this year by the World Health Organisation's monthly Bulletin challenged the police statistics, saying that road fatalities tabulated by health authorities were nearly double the police numbers.
The study also revealed that road fatalities based on death registrations from 2002 to 2007 have not declined in recent years as the police say, but instead have increased as China's auto market has boomed.
Auto sales in China totalled 18.06 million units in 2010, up 32 percent from the previous year, when the nation took the title of the world's top auto market from the United States.
Such numbers mean that a lot of new, inexperienced drivers are trying to learn to drive on roads that are becoming increasingly hazardous.
Copyright 2011 AFP Asian Edition