The death toll from a kindergarten bus accident in Guangdong climbed to three yesterday after another pupil died in hospital.
The accident in Yangchun city occurred on Monday, as new national regulations for school bus safety came into effect. Fourteen other children were injured, Xinhua reported.
The children were travelling in a yellow school bus when it collided with a truck, Tan Birong, spokeswoman for Yangchun's propaganda office, told Xinhua. However, her office could not be reached for comment on whether the bus was overloaded at the time of accident.
School bus safety has become a big concern since 19 kindergarten pupils and two others were killed in November when their vehicle collided with a coal truck in Gansu province. The nine-seat minivan had been crammed with 62 children.
After that accident, a further string of fatal school bus accidents continued to grab national headlines, with dozens of children being killed.
Last month, 10 pupils were injured in Harbin when their school bus flipped onto its side. Fifteen children died in December when a school bus plunged into a ditch in Fengxian, Jiangsu . It was carrying 87 children, 35 more than it should have been.
When school-bus operators are short of funds, they often overload them and they are prone to accidents. The problem is especially acute in rural areas with limited public transport or good roads.
The series of tragedies prompted Premier Wen Jiabao to order the drawing up of new safety regulations, which came into effect on Monday.
According to local media reports yesterday, the truck driver involved in Monday's crash had been arrested. Witnesses said the container truck had been travelling behind the school bus and ran into it at an intersection of an industrial park.
The new regulations impose severe punishment for overloading school buses, provide for designated school bus lanes, and hold local governments accountable for ensuring children attend nearby schools or boarding schools to minimise travel risks. In rural areas where schools are usually located far from the pupils' homes, measures will be taken to ensure children have access to proper school buses. Secondary school pupils, however, are not covered.