Twenty-seven people died on their way to a COVID-19 quarantine facility when their bus crashed in southwest China on Sunday, local authorities said, in the country’s deadliest accident this year.
The accident occurred on a highway in rural Guizhou province when a car carrying 47 people “overturned on its side,” Sandu County police said in a statement on social media.
Police said 20 people were being treated for injuries and rescuers were dispatched to the scene in the remote Tiannan prefecture.
The Guizhou government confirmed later on Sunday that the vehicle was “carrying people related to the epidemic for quarantine” from the provincial capital Guiyang and that the accident happened around 2.40am local time.
“Currently, the emergency and rescue work on the site is mostly completed, the provision of medical care to the injured and the rehabilitation of the dead are being carried out in an orderly manner, the causes of the incident are being investigated,” the local authorities said in a statement. statement to the media.
A bus driver drives to deliver groceries in Bijia, Guizhou Province, China on September 12, 2022. credit: (Photo credit should be credited to CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
It was not clear whether the passengers had been infected with COVID-19, had been in close contact with, or lived in the same building as those infected with the virus.
Guizhou has recorded more than 900 new infections in the past two days, while Guiyang, home to six million people, was locked down earlier in September.
Photos widely shared on social media on Sunday show a golden passenger bus with its top fully crumpled towing a truck.
Another viral photo has emerged showing a bus traveling at night with the driver and passengers wearing the protective suits still commonly worn in China to protect against COVID-19. AFP could not verify the photos.
“This feeling cannot be simply reflected by lighting a candle and saying RIP,” read one Weibo post with more than 15,000 likes.
Some people on social media used the accident to criticize China’s relentless no-covid policy, which has seen entire housing complexes of thousands of people moved into purpose-built quarantine facilities, sometimes hundreds of kilometers away.
“What proof do you have that you won’t be on that bus at night sometime?” read one viral Weibo post with over 15,000 likes.
The top-rated answer read: “Whoever said we don’t ride the bus late at night, we’re clearly all there.”
“We’re all on this horrible dark bus.”
The head of the Guizhou Communist Party and the provincial governor “rushed” to Tiannan Prefecture to lead emergency relief work, the local government said, adding that officials “expressed their deepest condolences to the victims.”
“It is necessary to learn a lesson from the accident, to study the quarantine and transportation of personnel related to the epidemic, and the hidden dangers in road safety … to resolutely curb the occurrence of major accidents,” the statement said.
Guizhou officials also promised to set up a task force to investigate the cause of the accident.
During a two-month lockdown in the Shanghai metropolis this spring, some residents of an apartment complex were forced to leave their homes and were bussed to raw quarantine facilities in neighboring provinces in the middle of the night — despite testing negative for COVID-19.
Traffic accidents remain a fairly common occurrence in China, where lax enforcement and lax safety standards have led to a number of fatalities over the years.
Guizhou has also seen other traffic accidents.
In June, a railway driver died in the province as a result of a high-speed train derailment.
And in March, the crash of a Chinese passenger plane killed all 132 people on board, making it China’s deadliest plane crash in decades.