12 students killed as bus rolls into river

Updated: 2011-12-13 06:43

By Xu Wei (China Daily)

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BEIJING - At least 12 pupils were confirmed dead after a school bus rolled over in Xuzhou, East China's Jiangsu province.

The accident occurred around 6 pm on Monday when the bus overturned into a river. Twenty-nine pupils were aboard at the time, Zhang Ruchang, a publicity official from the city of Xuzhou, told China Daily.

As of 11:30 pm on Monday, 12 pupils had died and 11 were injured, including three severely, Zhang said.

The bus driver only suffered minor injuries.

"The bus was traveling on the road when two electric bikes suddenly cut in and the driver was trying to avoid them," Zhang said.

The 29 pupils - first, second and fourth graders - were on their way home.

The bus was produced by Shaolin Auto Co Ltd in Henan province and had a full capacity of 52 passengers.

Local radio reported that shoes and school bags could be seen floating on the river.

Authorities sent 20 ambulances and a heavy crane as part of the rescue effort.

A day prior to the accident, the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council published draft regulations aimed at improving school bus safety, a move sparked by a nationwide outcry following the deaths of 19 children in an overcrowded, nine-seat bus.

That bus was carrying 64 passengers when it collided with a lorry in November in the northwestern province of Gansu, also killing two adults.

The draft proposed that school buses will have right of way in traffic under the command of police, the vehicles will be able to use bus lanes in rush hour, and private vehicles will be forbidden from overtaking a school bus picking up children.

It stipulates government will establish standards to test the quality of school buses, which now have to go through safety checks every six months.

The buses will also have to be equipped with hammers, fire extinguishers and first aid kits, and drivers will have to conform to strict licensing requirements.

As of press time on Monday, at least 1,141 people had commented on the draft's 59 articles on chinalaw.gov.cn.