Twenty-seven people have died in a bus crash in southwest China on Sunday, the country’s deadliest road accident so far this year.
The accident took place on a highway in rural Guizhou province when the vehicle carrying 47 people “flipped onto its side”, Sandu county police said in a statement.
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Emergency responders were dispatched to the scene and another 20 people were being treated for injuries.
The accident happened in Qiannan prefecture – a poor, remote and mountainous part of Guizhou, home to several ethnic minorities.
Social media users angrily demanded to know why a passenger bus was travelling down a highway in the early hours when many major roads in the province have been closed to regular traffic.
One hundred toll stations are shuttered in Guizhou because of COVID-19 restrictions and long-distance passenger journeys across China are banned from running between 2am and 5am.
Guizhou is in the middle of a COVID outbreak that has seen more than 900 new infections in the past two days alone.
Its provincial capital, Guiyang, home to six million residents, was locked down earlier in September.
The bus was travelling south in the direction of Guiyang to Libo county, according to the police statement.
Road accidents remain common in China where irregular enforcement and lax safety standards have resulted in many fatalities over the years.