64 Chinese preschoolers crammed into 8-seat school bus; overloading kills 11
On September 9, traffic police in the city of Qianan, Hebei province, intercepted a minivan re-purposed as a school bus for a kindergarten. 64 kindergarterners, one driver and one teacher were crammed into an 8-seat minivan. The kindergarten removed the eight seats and refitted it with 4 long benches. The police later sent the 64 kids back with police cars. However, because overloading of vehicle does not constitute a crime serious enough to merit detention, the violator was only fined 500 yuan ($77).
Overloading of temporary school vehicles has been a chronic and severe problem in China. It poses clear and present danger to the safety of the youth, and in some cases did kill many, wreaking havoc on many families. In a village of Guangdong province in the south, a pickup truck whose weight capacity is 500 kg (1,100 lbs) carries over 50 school children, all of whom stand and hold onto iron bars or fences to achieve balance, back and forth on mountain roads. A villager told Yangcheng Evening Post that the truck could only carry three cows before; they are in cold sweat over seeing this scene every day.
On September 9, nine students and two adults drowned after the ferry carrying 50 people, mostly students returning home for the Mid-Autumn Festival weekend, capsized and sank in Shaoyang city in Central China’s Hunan province. According to the initial investigative report, overloading played a major role in contributing to the tragic accident. State-run Xinhua News Agency reported that the ferry is approved to carry only 14 passengers, but 50 people including two boat owners were on board when the accident happened.
However, contrary to the official death toll, 90 students, instead of 50, were on board, as a student named Zeng Qing told Shanghai-based Dragon Television that they got a head count before the boat set off.