Chinese Media Say 15 Killed in School Bus Crash

December 14, 2011

At least 15 Chinese primary school students were killed when the bus taking them home overturned in the country’s east, highlighting serious problems with child safety following a similar tragedy last month.

Eight other children were injured, one of them seriously, a spokesman for the Jiangsu provincial government said Tuesday.

The accident occurred Monday afternoon as the bus was traveling along a rural highway outside the city of Xuzhou in the province’s north. Chinese news reports said the bus careened off the road after swerving to avoid another vehicle.

The spokesman, who like many Chinese officials refused to give his name, said the ages of the victims and the total number of people on the bus were not immediately known. The official Xinhua News Agency said 29 students were on board at the time of the crash.

The crash comes amid an emotional national discussion over the poor condition of Chinese school buses and chronic underfunding of public schools, particularly in rural areas which have lagged far behind cities over the past three decades of rapid economic development.

Last month, 19 students and two adults were killed when a nine-seat private school van packed with 62 children crashed head-on with a truck in northwest Gansu province.

That was followed by a high-profile pledge from Premier Wen Jiabao that new rules on school bus safety would be drafted within a month. Wen said central and local governments would bear the cost of bringing buses up to standard.

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