REPORTING FROM BEIJING -- At least 20 people, including 18 children, were killed Wednesday when a school bus collided head-on with a truck in northwest China, according to news reports.
The overloaded school bus that had only nine seats was carrying 64 passengers at the time of the accident, mostly children ages 5 and 6 on their way to kindergarten, the official New China News Agency reported. The accident occurred in Yulinzi township in Gansu province.
The driver and four children died at the scene and the others were rushed to the local hospital. Aside from the 20 dead, others in the vehicle sustained injuries, said Li Yuanqing, a government spokesman, the official news agency said.
Thirteen had serious injuries according to a press release from the work safety bureau. Officials at People’s No. 1 Hospital declined to comment on the status of the injured passengers.
This marks the fifth accident involving a kindergarten school bus this year, according to data compiled by Caixin, a Chinese news magazine. Kindergarten school buses are frequently overloaded and Wednesday’s crash was the deadliest yet.
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.
-- Benjamin Haas
Photo: Rescuers inspect a school bus after it collided with a truck in Yulinzi township in China's Gansu province on Wednesday. Credit: Reuters