BEIJING (AP) â€” An overloaded school minibus crashed head-on with a truck in rural western China on Wednesday, killing at least 18 kindergarten children on their way to class, officials said.
Sixty-two children and two adults were crowded into the bus, which had just nine seats, officials said. The driver and a teacher died along with the children, aged 5 and 6, said the director of the provincial work safety emergency office, surnamed Fan.
News of the crash ignited public anger across China, with hundreds of thousands of people venting on Twitter-like microblogs, highlighting an underfunded education system that especially shortchanges students in remote areas.
“This accident says a lot about the problems with the government’s role of monitoring school safety,” said Liu Shanying, expert in public administration at the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “It involves the education, traffic safety and work safety authorities. They should all be blamed for this. They should all be held responsible.”
“The kindergarten van was carrying seven times as many passengers as it should have been, which meant the kindergarten should have bought seven times as many vans,” Liu said.
The collision with the truck in China’s Gansu province left the orange school bus a crumpled and twisted wreckage. Authorities blamed the overloading for the accident, the official Xinhua News Agency said.