More than a dozen people were killed in northeastern China early on Saturday when the tractor they were riding on was rammed by an articulated truck on a highway, according to mainland Chinese media reports. In all, 15 people died and one person was injured in the incident at about 4.20am near the village of Shuangxingling in Heilongjiang province, state broadcaster China Central Television reported. The tractor was not licensed and was travelling on national highway 229, according to the report. The passengers in the tractor were on their way to pick marigolds, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine for their anti-inflammatory properties, Chengdu-based Red Star News reported. The report quoted residents as saying the passengers were mostly in their 50s and 60s, and poor road conditions might have been a factor. “The drivers start picking up people in the villages at 2am, in order to arrive at the fields before 4am,” Red Star News quoted a resident as saying. “It’s too early and it’s too dark. Poor visibility on roads leads to delayed braking.” According to a statement from the Heilongjiang government, governor Hu Changsheng went to the scene of the crash and the Ministry of Public Security had sent a working group to investigate. “State Councillor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi appointed deputy minister of public security Liu Zhao to lead a working group to the scene of the accident to guide the investigation and ... comprehensively strengthen the investigation and rectification of potential safety hazards, effectively reduce road traffic accidents, and protect the peoples’ lives and properties,” the statement said. 11 dead after truck collides with bus in eastern China The incident is one of a number of crashes in China that have had high fatalities in the last year. In April, a truck collided with a bus at around 1am on an expressway in the southern province of Jiangsu, killing 11 people. In July, a bus carrying 63 migrant workers, who had travelled to the southwestern province of Gansu to pick wolfberries, drove off the side of the road, resulting in 13 deaths and 47 people injured. And in October, 18 people died after a truck hit the rear of a four-wheel tractor, which then collided with another truck.