Demand for bus safety after Gansu crash
The Ministry of Education has ordered a nationwide inspection of school buses for kindergarteners and primary school students after a minibus crash in Gansu province left 19 children dead and more in critical condition.
A nine-seater school bus carrying 62 kindergarten students aged between four and six collided with a truck at around 9am on Wednesday. Two adults - a teacher and the bus driver - died in the road incident, which prompted the suspension of local officials.
A critically injured five-year old died last night, bringing the total death toll to 21, China News Service reported. The child, suffered from liver rupture and haemorrhagic shock, was already relying completely on a breathing apparatus to stay alive since midnight, state radio's news portal reported, citing hospital authorities.
Thirteen victims were being treated at the Zhengning County People's Hospital.
The father of another victim said his child had a broken arm and suffered a concussion. The 40-year-old man said the kindergarten, called Xiaoboshi, was the only one in the town of Yulinzi.
'We had no choice but to send them to the kindergarten, although we parents were worried about their safety,' said the man, who identified himself as Lao Wu.
The Ministry of Education yesterday also ordered local authorities to inspect all school vehicles and government permits for renting transportation for students after Wednesday's accident sparked outrage over lax rules on bus overloading.
Local authorities blamed the accident on the driver, accusing him of driving in reverse and speeding, apart from overcrowding the bus.
Overloading is rampant on the mainland. Xian Evening News reported that traffic police in Xian on Wednesday intercepted a 39-seater school bus carrying 57 primary school pupils and an adult.'
To stem public anger across the nation, Zuo Jianghua, deputy director of the information department in Qingyang city, which oversees Zhengning, said at a pnews conference yesterday that they had suspended four officials.
Those sanctioned were two deputy heads, the county's education bureau chief and a traffic police supervisor.
Meanwhile, the kindergarten was accused of endangering students' lives by removing all nine seats on the minibus to fit more passengers.
Lu Huadong, education chief in Qingyang city, told Xinhua that they had warned the kindergarten against overloading three days before the accident.
He also noted the city had no funds to subsidise privately owned kindergartens, which may rely on overcrowded transport to cut costs. But some internet users argued Lu glossed over reports the city spent more than 14 million yuan (HK$17 million) on decorating its office.
Ouyang Jian , a deputy party secretary in Gansu, said: 'It appears as though it was a traffic accident by chance, but the case has, in a real sense, rung the alarm of streamlining the quality of school buses.'
The number of fatalities from road accidents in China last year, according to police. But experts say the real death toll may be twice that number