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China Accident Kills At Least 2 Primary Students, 20 Injured

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BEIJING -- At least two primary students were killed Wednesday and 20 others were hurt in the latest accident involving school children on rural Chinese roads, state media reported.

The children were aboard a horse-drawn wagon that collided with a truck in Qiubei county in southwest Yunnan province, the official Xinhua New Agency reported. It did not immediately provide any other details.

Badly maintained school transport has been the focus of public anger in recent weeks after a series of accidents in which children were killed on their way to and from school.

Last week, China's safety regulator demanded immediate action to improve safety aboard frequently overloaded and badly maintained school buses.

The demand from the State Administration of Work Safety came hours after a school bus taking primary students home slipped off a country road into an irrigation ditch in the eastern province of Jiangsu, killing 15 children. Officials later acknowledged the bus was overloaded.

The crashes came amid a national debate over the poor condition of Chinese school buses and chronic underfunding of public schools, particularly in rural areas, which have lagged far behind cities over the past three decades of rapid economic development.

In the worst recent accident, 19 children and two adults were killed last month when a nine-seat private kindergarten van packed with 62 students crashed head-on with a truck in northwest Gansu province.

That was followed by a high-profile pledge from Premier Wen Jiabao that new rules to ensure school bus safety would be drafted soon.

Road safety is also a serious problem in China, with many accidents caused by poorly maintained roads and bad driving habits.


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