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Overloaded Rural ‘School Bus’ Rolls Over Into Water, 11 Dead

Villagers are gathering at the scene of the incident.

Villagers are gathering at the scene of the incident.

From Sina:

Jiangxi School Bus Accident Driver was the Kindergarten’s Principal, Names of Injured & Dead Made Public

December 24 morning about 9, an accident happened in Jiangxi Guixi Binjiang County Hongtang Village Hepan Shitongjia Unit, in which a kindergarten minibus rolled over and fell into a pool of water. The 7-seat minibus was carrying 17 people, resulting in 11 children killed. This reporter learned through interviews at the scene that the school bus driver was the kindergarten principal.

As it is understood, the kindergarten involved in the accident is called Spring Bud Kindergarten, located in Binjiang County Jinfa Village Committee Pengjia Unit, with 4 classes and 126 students. Villager Xu Youzhen told this reporter that this minibus without any markings to indicate itself to be a school bus had ordinarily been driven by the kindergarten’s principal Peng Chune herself, picking up and transporting the children to and from school everyday at 9am and 5pm. Although the vehicle was limited to only 7 seats, in order to save on costs, she had more than 10 children squeeze into the vehicle. Sobbing, Xu Youzhen told this reporter that the 4 children from the next village would’ve originally escaped the accident, but had gotten onto the minibus ahead of time just so they could get a seat.

As it turns out, every morning, kindergarten principal Peng Chune would drive a Changan minibus with license plate number “赣LP2689” to pick up children in Liuling Village for school. There were 4 children in Liuling Village—which is right next to the kindergarten—who attended this kindergarten. Originally, they were the nearest to the kindergarten, and could head out for school a little later, waiting until after the school bus was on its way back from picking up the children in the two other villages before getting aboard. But every time the school bus arrived, it was packed with people and they could only be squeezed in to stand next to the vehicle’s door. The parents were unhappy about this and raised complaints to the kindergarten many times, “but the village only has one kindergarten, and in order to save on costs, the kindergarten resorted to overloading [the minibus].” For lack of a better option, the parents could only have their children get up early every day so they could get on the school bus first before kindergarten principal Peng Chune set off [to pick up the children in the other villages], as this way they could get a seat.

December 24 morning at 8am, these 4 children got on the school bus early as usual. When the school bus had finished picking up the other children from nearby villages and was on its way back to the kindergarten passing through Shitongjia Unit, misfortune struck. Because the vehicle was going a little too fast, the driver Peng Chune drove into a pile of sand in an effort to avoid a farming vehicle parked on the roadside, and then slid into a pond. 17 people on the minibus—the driver, a female teacher, and 15 children—all fell into the water with the vehicle.

“Because the 4 children from Liuling Village were sitting furthest inside, they were blocked in by the other children who got on later and couldn’t get out.” A parent who participated in the rescue on the scene named Tong Huibing had jumped out of bed and rushed to the scene the moment he heard that the school bus had an accident. “I saw that the body of the vehicle about to disappear into the water and immediately jumped into the water. At the time, there was only 10cm of the bus still above the surface of the water. There was a female teacher dragging children out from the vehicle and I was desperately pulling them out.” In the 2 minute before the minibus was completely submerged, Tong Huibing and some other nearly residents dragged out 6 children from the water, including his own daughter Tong Beiying. “It was only because my daughter was the last one to get on the minibus that she could be rescued. There was nothing we could do to save the children who were crammed inside.”

Through the joint rescue efforts of the nearby villagers, 1 driver, 1 female teacher, and 4 children narrowly and luckily escaped.

Casualty list of the 12.24 Minibus Rollover Into Pool Incident

Died instantly at the scene:

Tong Yuxiang, male, age 4, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Peng Bingyu, male, age 4, Liuling Village Committee.
Hu Simin, female, age 4, Liuling Village Committee.
Luo Qinxin, female, age 4, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Tong Qianlong, male, age 6, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Tong Fangqiang, male, age 6, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Tong Chenxi, male, age 6, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Hu Siqi, female, age 5, Liuling Village Committee.
Tong Quanbing male, age 5, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Tong Jiawei, male, age 4, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Lu Yu, male, age 5, Liuing Village Committee Zhanshan Unit.

Hospitalized in ICU:

Tong Yongjie, male, age 5, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Tong Guowei, male, age 5, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Tong Longhao male, age 6, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.
Tong Beiying, female, age 4, Hepanshi Tongjia Unit.

A child’s school bag is floating on the surface of the pool.

A child’s school bag floats on the surface of the pool where the minibus rolled over and fell in.

Rescuers are drawing water with a pump.

December 24, rescuers using a water pump in their rescue efforts.

A man is salvaging items left in the pool after the rescue.

Dredging up the remaining items.

These are the fences set up at the scene where the incident happened.

These are the fences set up at the scene where the accident happened.

An injured child of the incident is receiving medical treatment.

An injured child of the incident is receiving medical treatment.

An injured child of the incident is receiving medical treatment.

Children injured in the accident receiving medical care at Guixi City People’s Hospital.

Comments from Sina:

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夏林1909:

Government departments need to stop building their own office buildings, buy fewer cars, spend less public funds on eating and drinking, and spend more money on education. If it were like what Sichuan requested in the 1930s where “any county magistrate whose county office is better than the schools shall be executed on the spot”, then tragedies like this will greatly decrease.

浪漫临海男 [江苏苏州]:

Naive, it is precisely because China’s school buses will never produce a future government leader that importance will never be attached to them. The only reason Americans attach importance to school buses is because the future president is in those school buses.

手机用户 [广东广州]:

Sigh! What has the government been doing all this time? What’s the use of the government paying attention now? Always too slow to implement and every implementation too poorly done, everything done half-heartedly, done just to trick the masses. Harming the flowers of the future, cheating the powerless people!

Bazinnga:

Can’t blame everything on the rabble. It’s true that the kindergarten principal did wrong in some regards, but where is the government supervision and education funds?? Could a rural kindergarten afford to keep 4 or 5 school buses relying only on its own profits? Or afford school buses built to American standards? These are all things the ZF are supposed to do! So don’t stand on the moral high ground, you ZF are the ones who first failed these children!

goldcks [广东广州]:

The government has money to build office buildings, eat, drink, and other “Three Public Expenses” [using public money for travel, personal transportation, and entertaining guests], and at the end of the year, they even set up various kinds of projects in order to quickly spend whatever is left; they just aren’t able to spend money on basic education. People, stop making things difficult for the government.

手机用户 [陕西西安]:

Chinese officials’ dereliction of duty and shamelessness are the main causes of this accident.

六小卷_Ray:

When even going to school has become so risky, how can the country talk about being prosperous and strong?! It’s all empty words! It’s just allowing a group of people who eat [foodstuff grown and produced exclusively for government officials] and have children who are foreign nationals to study the people’s livelihood in China. This itself is a big joke!

盲流微博:

When schools in rural areas are combined and children have to go so far, they have no choice but to take the bus. Is school bus safety really that difficult? All you have to do is lower the grade/quality of government officials’ cars to save a bit and there would be money for this.

萌游人生:

Government officials’ cars are always safe, school buses are always dangerous. The government leaders always go first, while the ordinary common people are always last.

手机用户 [上海]:

Don’t always blame things on overloading, what son of a bitch would want to overload if there’s enough funds? I myself don’t think there was really anything wrong with what the principal did. After an accident, it’s more important to adopt appropriate improvement measures than to just criticize.

手机用户 [广东广州]:

Angry!!! The head of the Education Department, the mayor, the county magistrate, and the head of Education Bureau should all be arrested and executed by firing squad!

手机用户 [北京丰台]:

Could our hearts not tremble? Our hearts are bleeding! Children, rest in peace, you won’t be lonely in heaven. Leaders, you also have your babies! Deal with this appropriately, and do more practical things!

东门的李栋 [山东济南]:

I seldom comment, usually just read. Today, I want to say something on behalf of the principal driver. She definitely wouldn’t have wanted this accident to happen. Therefore, we need to analyze at a deeper level why she would overload. People from poor areas wouldn’t feel indifferent toward life, they would only passively take it lightly. Because there’s nothing they can do. May the deceased rest in peace!

手机用户 [安徽巢湖]:

Dammit, officials doing things for the people is just like the wind, every thing is still the same after it passes. Those poor children, may you all be little angels in heaven.

手机用户 [广东广州]:

This can only be blamed on the government not supervising this normally. This is a widespread phenomenon. Nowadays, many school leaders have cars, but they won’t even buy one school bus for the school. Any money is embezzled by the school and government officials. With this incident, the this party secretary, mayor, etc. of the county, city, and town must all be fired for it to be right. They are too irresponsible.

手机用户 [山西太原]:

Never heard of school buses in the past, because the schools were nearby, and children could walk to school on their own. Why merge and combine schools, allowing tragedies like this to happen all the time? So lamentable, so frustrating, so pitiful.

天在云端:

Poor children, be sure to choose the right place when reincarnating next time.

江南小镇一介布衣 [浙江嘉兴]:

Truly heartbreaking that so many adorable children are gone just like that! For a kindergarten to operate for 6 years without a license, just what the hell was the self-proclaimed everything-for-the-people government doing throughout these past 6 years? What were all those government leaders and experts of the Education Bureau doing? The government failing to do its duty is a crime, because it is the people who are feeding you.

手机用户 [江苏南京]:

The 30 years since the reform [and opening up of China] has been 30 years of moral degeneration of society.

轱辘笛:

Have the parents all been controlled [dealt with, silenced]? The government is a bastard!

What do you think? Who is the most responsible for this incident?

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Written by Peter Barefoot

Peter is a born and raised Chengdunese who enjoys drinking with all his friends.

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