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Truck hits jogging students, killing 20
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-15 06:08

It was just before dawn and a group of junior secondary school students were jogging along the road on their morning exercises as they routinely did.

Accidents were rare along their route and the worst the town had ever experienced was one in which two people were killed.

In a flash, it all changed yesterday as disaster struck literally.

The killer truck at the accident site. [China Daily]

A heavy-duty truck mowed into the group of students, killing 20. Thirty of their classmates were injured, one seriously.

The scene was so gory that officials barred people from taking pictures till the site was cleaned up.

The horrific accident happened at Guodao Township in Qinyuan County of North China's Shanxi Province.

And a devastated town was left groping for answers, specially: How could this have happened?

For one, the playground at Nanmiao Middle School was not big enough, said a teacher, "so the students were asked to do their morning exercises outside, on the road."

But it was not clear:

if the truck's headlights were on at the time (officials said the weather was fair).

how the driver lost control of his vehicle.

whether he had dozed off.

why he did not stop the truck soon after he realized he hit something.

An official with the local traffic police department said the driver has been detained, adding that he failed to stop the truck after hitting the first student.

"I have never seen such a serious accident in the 10 years I have been working," he told China Daily.

It is believed that the driver was exhausted after long hours of driving when the accident happened.

The two-lane road has no divider and is used by motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.

The injured students have been rushed to hospitals in Qinyuan County and neighbouring Changzhi city, where the truck was from.

Sources said that officials from the Shanxi Provincial Department of Public Security and the Ministry of Public Security arrived at the site to investigate.

A three-paragraph report on the tragedy by Xinhua, carried on almost all major news websites in the country, elicited grief and outrage from netizens.

Many blamed local education authorities for the tragedy.

"Where has all the educational funding gone? Why did rural children have to do their morning exercises on a dangerous road?" asked a message on the popular Sohu website.

Others complained about the news portals' brief coverage and lack of details about the accident.

"Was the truck driving too fast? Was it overloaded? How did the accident happen? I hope the media follows up," said a message on Netease.

The provincial educational authorities yesterday ordered all schools to stop students from doing exercises along main streets or highways.

(China Daily 11/15/2005 page1)

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