Eight Children, Two Teachers, Driver Killed As Overloaded Van Plunges Into Pond

By Niam Seet Wei

BEIJING, July 11 (Bernama) -- Eleven passengers comprising eight kindergarten pupils and three adults were killed when an overloaded mini-van ferrying 15 passengers plunged into a pond in central China's Hunan Province on Thursday.

The accident occurred about 5pm when the vehicle, with the maximum capacity of eight was used as a school bus to ferry children and teachers from a private kindergarten to their homes.

Four children managed to escape from the jaws of death as they had earlier alighted from the vehicle before it reached the location where the tragedy occurred.

The route which the mini-van had taken was described as unauthorised and located in a remote area.

Initial investigations have suggested overloading and use of an unauthorised route as among the two major causes of the accident, Xinhua news agency quoted Hunan Provincial Education Department deputy director Ge Jianzhong as saying.

It was reported that the mini-van was retrieved from the pond about 3am Friday, before the bodies of the eight children and the driver were found in the vehicle.

The bodies of two kindergarten teachers were found about an hour later.

"It is common for a bus to be overloaded," Xinhua cited a father of a child on board as saying.

All classes have been suspended at the kindergarten, while the Hunan Government is set to overhaul all schoolbuses and examine the background of the drivers to prevent a similar tragedy.


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