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CHINA: Car accidents make for a deadly end to holiday

October 8, 2011 |  5:25 am

REPORTING FROM BEIJING -- After surpassing the United States in 2009 to become the world’s largest car market, China is confronting the dangers of motoring.

On Friday, the end of a weeklong holiday, 56 people were killed in three car accidents across China, according to the official New China News Agency. Roads were overly busy with vehicles returning from holiday trips.

In the deadliest of the accidents, 35 people were killed and 18 injured when a bus carrying college students returning from a school break collided with a car in Tianjin, a port city about 70 miles southeast of Beijing.

A Tianjin traffic official said the bus was speeding and many passengers were thrown from the vehicle when it hit the car and rolled over, the New China News agency reported.

Meanwhile, in Anhui province in central China 10 people were killed and 19 injured in a 24-car pileup. Traffic officials blamed heavy fog and low visibility. Eleven other people were killed when a van collided with a truck on an expressway in central China’s Henan province, according to the Shanghai Daily. The driver of the truck fled the scene but was later apprehended by police.

Car accidents are common in China because many motorists ignore traffic laws. More than 100,000 people die in automobile crashes every year in China, making the nation's roads the deadliest in the world. Last year, 13.8 million passenger cars were sold in China.

Overall, 18.1 million vehicles were produced in China, a 32.4% increase from 2009. Last month, the total number of cars in China hit 100 million.


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-- Benjamin Haas

Photo: A bus lies on its side after crashing into a car on a Tianjin highway. Credit: STR / AFP/Getty Images