School bus crash in Jiangsu province kills 15 and injures 8

Updated:Sat, Dec 17, 2011 06:38 AM   By Bernd Chang

School bus crash,Jiangsu

Dec. 13, Xuzhou - A school girl squated on the ditch where the school bus accident took place that killed 15 and injured 8 pupils.

AT least four officials have been suspended after Monday's fatal school bus accident that killed 15 pupils and injured eight in Fengxian County of eastern China's Jiangsu Province, local authorities said yesterday.

 

December 16, 2011, Xuzhou - AT least four officials have been suspended after Monday's fatal school bus accident that killed 15 pupils and injured eight in Fengxian County of eastern China's Jiangsu Province, local authorities said yesterday.

Among the suspended officials are Zhang Bin, deputy chief of the county government; Sun Guanghua, director of the county education bureau; and Zhang Xianqi, principal of the Zhongxin Primary School which the victims attended in Shouxian Town, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

All are under criminal investigation, State news agency Xinhua said.

The accident occurred at 5:50 p.m. December 12, Monday in Fengxian County. The bus was taking at least 41 students home when it veered into a roadside ditch and overturned after the driver tried to avoid colliding with a pedicab. Students became trapped at the bottom of the overturned bus and drowned as water gushed into the wreck.

Nearby factory workers heard cries and rushed to help the children, many of whom were trapped at the bottom of the overturned bus.

"The water was not very deep, probably more than a metre (yard) or so - up to an adult's waist - but it was deep enough to drown some of the children," Zhang, the wife of the factory owner, told the Associated Press.

"We tried so hard and cracked open one of the windows and started to pull the kids out. It was freezing cold."

She said the children ranged in age from six to 14. Eight of the children were injured, among them one pupil is still in critical condition.

'Overcrowded'

Officials have said the bus could carry 52 people so was not overloaded at the time of the accident.

They have been keen to draw a distinction between a crash in Gansu province last month in which 19 kindergarten children died. On that occasion, more than 60 youngsters were crammed into a minibus that originally had just nine seats.

But officals statements drew heavy suspicion from the public. Different from offcial statements that there were only 29 pupils on the bus when the accident happened, witness claimed that more than 80 pupils were on the bus. Many Chinese doubt that crowd and jam are the main reason that caused such high death toll in such a shallow ditch.

On 14th Wednesday Fengxian County offcials modified their previous remark and said at least 41 pupils were on the bus.

History repeats

The tragedy comes amid a national outcry over recent similar incidents.

Also on Monday, a school bus carrying 59 pupils was hit by a heavy-duty truck in the city of Foshan in south China's Guangdong Province, injuring 37 students, Cai Yaoxin, an official with Foshan's Lecong township government, said on Tuesday.

Seven of the injured, one seriously, have been hospitalized.

The school bus and truck drivers were put in police custody for investigation, Cai said.

Both accidents occurred only a day after the State Council, China's cabinet, moved to strengthen school bus safety after the deadly crash killed 19 kindergarten children in Gansu about a month ago.

A nine-seat school bus illegally carrying 64 people collided head-on with a coal truck in northwest China's Gansu province on Nov. 16, killing 19 preschoolers, two adults and injuring 43 others.

Correspondents say school buses are often overloaded in China, and children are increasingly being forced to travel further as schools close in rural areas hit by migration to the cities. But schools are few in number in the vast and sparsely populated rural areas of China. School buses are themselves relatively new, as children in years past would typically hike rugged roads to attend school.

Premier Wen Jiabao has called on government departments to "rapidly" draft safety regulations and standards for school buses while further improving the design, production and distribution of the vehicles. A new draft will endow school buses more privileges.

 

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