BEIJING/SEOUL (AFP, Korea Herald/Asia News Network) – Ten young South Korean children were among 12 people killed when a school bus crashed and burst into flames in a tunnel in eastern China on Tuesday (May 9), officials said.
The children were aged between four and seven and lived in the city of Weihai in Shandong province where the accident happened, a South Korean consular official in the city of Qingdao told AFP.
The Weihai propaganda department said on a microblogging website that 12 people had died and another person was seriously injured.
A Chinese instructor was severely injured, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, citing officials at the South Korean Embassy in China.
A ministry official said the instructor was missing and that the embassy had dispatched a consul to the scene.
"What we know so far is that the accident occurred when the car taking the children to school was passing through a tunnel," the official said.
"It's unclear whether there was a fire, but a considerable number, around 10 or so, were killed, including the driver, and the accompanying instructor was missing."
The cause of the crash was under investigation.
Deadly road accidents are common in China, where traffic regulations are often flouted or go unenforced by police.
There were more than 180,000 traffic accidents in 2015, causing 58,000 deaths, authorities said in December.
The country’s frequently overcrowded long-distance buses are particularly prone to high fatalities. Ten people were killed and 38 injured in March when a bus collided with a cement truck in the southwestern province of Yunnan. At least 18 people were killed when a minibus plunged into a lake in the central city of Wuhan in December.
Last November, a pile-up on an expressway in the northern province of Shanxi killed 17 people and damaged 56 vehicles.