First responders work at the site of the accident after a coach hit the wall of the Qinling Mountains No. 1 Tunnel on the Jingkun Expressway on Friday. -AP
A passenger coach crashed into the wall of an expressway tunnel in China's northwest, killing at least 36 people and injuring 13 others, official media reported on Friday. The accident occurred in Shaanxi province late on Thursday as the coach was on its way to Luoyang, a city in central China, from Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the provincial police bureau. The injured were sent to the hospital. According to Sina news website, the bus had a 51- passenger capacity and was carrying 49 people, including two children.
Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun ordered a swift investigation into the accident, according to state broadcaster China Central Television. Highway accidents are common in China because of high speeds, aggressive driving and a failure to leave adequate braking distance. The country's frequently overcrowded long-distance buses are particularly prone to fatalities.
The World Health Organization estimates that traffic accidents kill around 260,000 people in mainland China each year - a rate of 18.8 in every 100,000 people. Traffic law violations caused almost 90 percent 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. Ten people were killed and 38 injured in March when a bus collided with a cement truck in the southwestern province of Yunnan.
-AA International Desk
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