A makeshift school bus designed to carry nine people was instead carrying 62 children and two adults when it crashed in Gansu, killing 18 of the preschoolers and the two adults aboard. Many of the students were children of migrant workers, who were away living and working in distant cities. The head of the school and a driver have been detained, as anger from parents and netizens mounts online. Xinhua reports on the arrests:
Li Jungang, chairman of the Little Doctor Kindergarten in Zhengning County in the city of Qingyang, was detained on Wednesday because of liability issues, Zuo Jianghua, a spokesman for the Qingyang city government, said on Thursday.
Fan Jungang, the driver of a truck that collided with the school bus, was also detained for causing the accident, said Zuo.
Two deputy county chiefs and the heads of the county’s education bureau and traffic department have been suspended from duty following the accident.
AP reports that parents had concerns for their children’s safety before the crash:
Every time the dozens of kindergartners crammed into their makeshift bus for school in rural China, their relatives worried for their safety. Those fears were confirmed this week in a horrific wreck that killed 18 students.
“It was carrying way too many children,” one boy’s uncle said Thursday, a day after the crash in China’s Gansu province. “It was very dangerous.”
The nine-seater was stuffed with 62 students aged 3 to 5, plus a teacher and the driver, when it collided head-on with a heavy truck on Wednesday morning on its way to the Little Doctor Kindergarten in Qingyang city. The two adults also were killed, officials said, while the two people in the truck were unhurt.
This is not the only rural school to take such extreme measures to transport their students to school, as a lack of funding and long trips on rural roads make safer forms of transportation difficult to secure. NBC reporter Adrienne Mong found and posted via Twitter a video of another school bus in which 66 students were crammed into a six-seater. Fortunately for the children on this bus, the driver got pulled over by police: