School bus accident kills 20 in NW China

Updated: 2011-11-16 14:24


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School bus accident kills 20 in NW China

Rescuers check the scene on Nov 16. [Photo/Xinhua]

LANZHOU - The death toll in a school bus accident that occurred on Wednesday morning in the northwest province of Gansu has risen to 20 following the death of one child later Wednesday.

The victims, including 18 preschoolers and two adults, died in a head-on collision between a school bus and a truck in the city of Qingyang, said an official from the city's work safety bureau.

The accident happened around 9:40 a.m. in Yulinzi township of Zhengning county, according to a statement from the bureau. The statement said five people died at the scene, including four children and their bus driver, while 15 others, their teacher included, were confirmed dead by the afternoon.

The statement said another 44 children were injured in the accident and have been hospitalized. Twelve of the injured are in a serious condition.

The truck had a license plate from the neighboring province of Shaanxi and was carrying coal, the statement said.

The bureau has blamed overloading for the accident, stating that the bus -- a van with nine seats -- was carrying 64 people, most of whom were children from Yulinzi's Little Doctor Kindergarten, a privately-run kindergarten located in the rural area.

According to the statement, it was foggy when the accident occurred and the van was in poor condition. The truck driver has been taken into police custody.

China's Ministry of Education later called for an urgent nationwide inspection of all school buses in operationin an emergency notice, posted on the ministry's official website.

It requests education authorities at all level, schools and kindergartens to scrutinize the safety of school buses and stop risky vehicles from being operated.

The inspection should also cover those shuttle buses rented by parents, according to the notice, adding that local education authorities should "actively seek support from the government" to provide safe transportation for those students whose schools or kindergartens are unable to afford a school bus.

The notice demands that students should be educated not to take illegally operating buses and their parents should be warned not to rent vehicles with safety risks.

The accident is one of many in China involving school buses or students.

On October 28, 19 people, including 10 children, were injured when a school bus from a kindergarten hit a van in the northwest Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

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