6 die in latest school bus accident in China

AP News
Posted: Dec 25, 2011 12:13 AM

At least six people have been killed in the latest crash involving students in China when their overloaded van plunged off a mountain road, state media said Sunday.

The official Xinhua News Agency said an overloaded van taking 12 students home crashed into a 195-foot (60-meter) deep valley in southwest China on Saturday. It said the eight-seat van was carrying 14 people and the other eight, including six students, were all hurt.

The report did not give the ages of the students or the cause of the accident. Xinhua said the crash happened on a mountainous road in Yunnan province. A local government official confirmed the accident but would not give any details. A local news portal in Yunnan showed a picture of the van, with all its sides and roof crushed in.

Badly maintained school transport has been the focus of public anger in recent weeks after a series of accidents in which children were killed on their way to and from school, leading China's safety regulator to demand immediate action to improve safety aboard frequently overloaded and badly maintained school buses.

Earlier this month, a school bus taking primary students home slipped off a country road into an irrigation ditch in the eastern province of Jiangsu, killing 15 children. Officials later acknowledged the bus was overloaded.

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In the worst recent accident, 19 children and two adults were killed last month when a nine-seat private kindergarten van packed with 62 students crashed head-on with a truck in northwest Gansu province.

The crashes came amid a national debate over the poor condition of Chinese school buses and chronic underfunding of public schools, particularly in rural areas, which have lagged far behind cities over the past three decades of rapid economic development.

Road safety is also a serious problem in China, with many accidents caused by poorly maintained roads and bad driving habits.