A school bus taking primary students home slipped off a country road into an irrigation ditch in eastern China yesterday evening, killing 15 children and highlighting continuing safety problems in the country's school transport system following a similar tragedy last month. Workers at a nearby factory heard cries for help and rushed to the overturned bus, broke open the windows, and began pulling children out. "The water was not very deep, probably more than a meter or so, up to an adult's waist, but it was deep enough to drown some of the children," said one woman, who said the children ranged in age from six to about 14.
Eight other children were injured, one of them seriously, said a Jiangsu provincial government spokesman. The bus was reportedly carrying 29 students and was designed for 52 people, so it was not overloaded. News reports said it careened off the road after swerving to avoid a pedicab. The driver was detained for investigation. The crash comes amid an emotional national discussion over the poor condition of Chinese school buses and chronic underfunding of public schools; another bus was hit by a truck yesterday in southern Guangdong province, injuring 37 students.