AT LEAST 38 people have been killed in a collision between a bus and a van carrying flammable liquids in southern China, the latest in a string of accidents that have fuelled anger over unsafe transport.
The crash in Hunan province happened in the early hours of yesterday morning when the van drove into the back of the coach, triggering a fire and explosion, the official state news agency said.
Five people were injured, including four who were suffering severe burns.
Five vehicles were destroyed in the crash. A police investigation is under way.
Last week, 11 people were killed, including eight children, when a school bus crashed into a reservoir in Hunan. Accidents in recent years involving vehicles carrying school children have made such incidents a sensitive issue, particularly in China’s rural areas where roads are often poorly maintained.
In 2011, 18 children and two adults were killed when an overloaded school bus collided with a coal truck in foggy conditions. The bus had nine seats but was packed with 64 people at the time of the accident.
The following year, a school van plunged into a pond in Jiangxi killing 11 children, and three children on board a bus died in a traffic accident in Guangdong.
China’s cabinet issued new rules governing school bus safety, setting out specifications for school buses and punishments for offences, such as overloading.
Meanwhile, a super typhoon has killed at least 14 people in China since making landfall on Friday afternoon, according to reports yesterday, after hitting parts of the Philippines and leaving 77 dead.
Typhoon Rammasun reached the southern Chinese island province of Hainan on Friday, before striking parts of the mainland later that day and early yesterday morning, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The government had ordered an all-out effort to prevent loss of life from the typhoon, which is shaping up to be the strongest to hit southern China in more than 40 years.
It is expected to bring heavy rain throughout the weekend before moving south-west and weakening tomorrow. Heavy rain is also expected over part of northern Vietnam.
The typhoon has hit several cities in the Chinese provinces of Guangxi, Guangdong and Hainan, tearing down trees and power lines and knocking out power grids.
Rammasun has affected more than 1.3 million people, and caused economic damage worth more than 4.95 billion yuan (£466m). In the Philippines, Rammasun badly hit the coconut-growing southern portion of the main island of Luzon, including the central Bicol region, which remained without power four days after it struck.
The storm damaged an estimated 5.85 billion Philippine pesos (£78m) worth of crops and infrastructure, including roads and bridges.
Typhoons are common at this time of year in the South China Sea, picking up strength from the warm waters and dissipating over land.
Flooding across a large swathe of southern China in the past week has killed at least 34 people.