We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

People light candles to mourn the children killed in last month's bus crash in Gansu. Yuan ye/AP/Press Association Images

15 children killed in Chinese school bus crash

Locals said that they tried to pull children from the wreckage after a bus crashed into a ditch, but that some of those killed drowned in the waist-high water.

A SCHOOL bus taking primary students home slipped off a country road into an irrigation ditch in eastern China, killing 15 children and highlighting continuing safety problems in the country’s school transport system following a similar tragedy last month.

Workers at a nearby factory heard cries for help and rushed to the overturned bus, broke open the windows and began pulling children out.

At least 15 children died and eight others were injured, one of them seriously, said a spokesman for the Jiangsu provincial government, who like many Chinese officials refused to give his name. The official Xinhua News Agency said today the bus was carrying 29 students and was designed for 52 people, so was not overloaded.

The accident occurred yesterday evening as the bus was traveling along a rural highway outside the city of Xuzhou in the province’s north. News reports said it careened off the road after swerving to avoid a pedicab. Xinhua said the driver had been detained for investigation.

“My husband … used one hand to grab two or three [children] and the other to grab another two or three,” said the wife of Tian Shengwei, who owns a nearby food processing factory.

“The water was not very deep, probably more than a metre or so, up to an adult’s waist, but it was deep enough to drown some of the children,” said Tian’s wife, who would give only her surname, Zhang.

“We tried so hard and cracked open one of the windows and started to pull the kids out. It was freezing cold,” she said by phone.

She said the children ranged in age from six to about 14.

Transport conditions

The crash comes amid an emotional national discussion 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.

Yesterday, a school bus was hit by a truck in southern Guangdong province, injuring 37 of the 59 students on board, Xinhua reported. Police detained the two drivers.

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

That was followed by a high-profile pledge from Premier Wen Jiabao that new rules to ensure school bus safety would be drafted within a month. Wen said central and local governments would bear the cost of bringing often-shoddy buses up to standard.

New regulations proposed on Sunday by China’s Cabinet provide guidelines such as forbidding private vehicles from overtaking buses when students are getting on or off, but do not address to what extent the government will fund school transport.

Many school buses are operated by car rental companies and even co-financed by parents.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Associated Foreign Press
Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.