Clothing of children involved in the accident, scattered outside of Shouxian Township’s Community Health Service Center.
A school bus carrying 46 passengers overturned in a county incorporated in the Jiangsu city of Xuzhou (徐州) at approximately 6pm on Tuesday, with a dozen reported deaths and with 3 out of the 11 injured school bus passengers in critical condition.
The vehicle, which was a regular city bus being used to transport schoolchildren in Shouxian Township (首羡) in Xuzhou’s Feng County (丰县), reportedly rolled over (with some reports of the bus rolling over into a river) near a vegetable processing plant, while traveling on a road not normally taken by the bus as part of its regular route.
The bus was not filled to overcapacity, with the recommended limit being 52 passengers for the vehicle. However, netizens and the Chinese public will likely point out the fact that the bus involved was still not a regulation school bus, and thus insufficient for ensuring the safety of schoolchildren.
Meanwhile, rescued schoolchildren have been rushed to county-level hospitals in Feng County, due to overcrowding in the local people’s hospital in Shouxian Township. Other reports state that children from the accident have been sent to more prominent hospitals in Xuzhou, a city with a population of 8.6 million.
The news of China’s latest school bus tragedy, following the accident in Gansu that took 20 lives in November, comes less than 48 hours after the State Council released its first-ever draft on school bus safety regulations on Sunday.
UPDATE: The BBC reports that the death toll for the accident is now at 15, with some children drowning while others suffocated to death. The school bus swerved to avoid a motorized rickshaw, and ended up overturned in a ditch filled with 60cm of water:
“Water got into the bus and because the pupils were pressing down on each other. Some of them drowned. Others suffocated,” said the posting.
The driver of the bus, who reportedly initially fled from the scene, is now in detention.