At least 36 killed in China bus crash; 13 injured

The local authorities says that the coach crashed in Qinling tunnel in Shaanxi province on Thursday night.

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At least 36 people died and 13 were injured after a packed bus slammed into a tunnel wall on an expressway in northern China, the state media said on Friday. Xinhua news agency reported that the wounded have been rushed to hospital.

The agency cited the local authorities as saying that the coach crashed in Qinling tunnel in Shaanxi province on Thursday night. The bus was travelling from Chengdu in southwest Sichuan province to the central city of Luoyang.

According to Sina news website, the bus had a 51-passenger capacity and was carrying 49 people, including two children.

On Tuesday night, 20 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in an earthquake that struck the Sichuan province. This latest accident news comes as the region is reeling from the quake tragedy.

Deadly road accidents are quite common in China as the traffic regulations are often flouted or go unenforced by police. The country's frequently overcrowded long-distance buses are particularly prone to fatalities.

The authorities said in December that there were more than 180,000 traffic accidents and 58,000 deaths in China 2015. Traffic law violations caused almost 90 per cent of the road accidents where people died or were injured in 2015, with the total number of such infractions reaching an astonishing 442 million.

Last month, 11 people died and nine were injured when a bus carrying 19 people collided with a lorry on a national highway in northern Hebei province.

In March, 10 people were killed and 38 others were injured when a bus collided with a cement truck in the southwestern province of Yunnan.

In May, 11 young South Korean and Chinese children were among 13 people killed when a school bus burst into flames in a tunnel in Shandong province. Authorities later accused the driver, who died, of intentionally setting the bus on fire.

Another accident took place in December after a minibus plunged into a lake in the central city of Wuhan killing at least 18 people. Last November, a pile-up on an expressway in the northern province of Shanxi killed 17 people and damaged 56 vehicles.

Last year in July, a coach crashed through a highway guard rail and plunged into a canal near the northern city of Tianjin, killing 26.