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Bus accident kills 24, injures nine in Beijing suburb
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-06 05:52

Twenty-four coach passengers from Hebei Province were killed and nine others injured in a traffic accident on Beijing's Badaling Expressway on Sunday evening.

The accident happened at 8:30 pm and is under investigation by authorities, Beijing Evening News, a major newspaper in the city, reported yesterday.

A cargo truck loaded with calcium carbide from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region suffered a brake failure and rammed into a coach, which belongs to Beijing Bus Company, reported the Beijing News Daily.

Both vehicles overturned, dropped into a 20-metre ditch and caught fire, killing 24 of the passengers.

The truck had burst into flames when its load of calcium carbide mixed with water in the ditch.

Rescue efforts were hampered by thick smoke from the fire, cold weather, force eight winds and difficult surrounding terrain.

Firefighters scooped up mounds of earth to cover the burning calcium carbide to stop the fire, said the paper.

Rescuers from the traffic administration department, fire brigades and patrol police in the capital and Changping District had rushed to the site within 30 minutes, said the report.

Police officials from the Ministry of Public Security and the municipal police bureau also attended the accident scene to lead the rescue efforts and supervise treatment for survivors.

Nine people who were injured, one of whom seriously and the others who were left with minor injuries, were taken to Nankou Hospital in Changping District after the accident.

The accident took place at a site 500 metres away from the notorious "Death Valley" of the Badaling Expressway. Frequent accidents have occurred in the area which has a continuous descending slope, reports said.

China's roads are among the world's most dangerous, with more than 100,000 people killed each year in accidents caused by reckless driving, poor road conditions and overloading of vehicles, statistics reveal.

(China Daily 12/06/2005 page3)

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