School bus toll keeps climbing despite vow
Another three school bus crashes on the mainland have claimed the lives of at least 17 children and injured dozens more in the past two days.
The tragedies came in the wake of Beijing issuing strict guidelines aimed at preventing such accidents.
A bus crash in Zhumadian city in central Henan province yesterday killed two students and injured 20 people, seven seriously.
The bus had been rented by a middle school and was carrying 50 students and teachers when it rammed into a truck.
At least 15 primary school children died when a bus ran off a road in Feng county, Jiangsu, and crashed into a ditch on Monday.
Earlier on Monday, 37 students were injured when their bus and a truck collided in Shunde, Guangdong province.
Premier Wen Jiabao pledged on Sunday to ensure the safety of school buses following public anger over the deaths of 19 kindergarten children in Gansu last month when their nine-seater van, which had been carrying 62 children, collided head-on with a coal truck.
The Feng county tragedy happened just before 6pm when the bus, carrying 29 children, slid off a narrow country road into a water-filled ditch while trying to avoid a tricycle.
Zhang Bin, a deputy chief of the county, said the bus had overturned. 'Water got into the bus, and because the pupils were pressing down on each other, some of them drowned. Others suffocated,' he said.
Zhang said the bus was registered to its driver, Hong Xu, 30, who had been detained, with an initial probe finding that he was not licensed to drive buses. The 52-seater bus was not overloaded, the report said.
Anxious parents complained that they were being kept in the dark about their injured children's whereabouts. 'I have two children in that school bus, one 11 and one six. I have no idea where they are now,' a tearful father said.