The start of China's Spring Festival travel season was marred by two road accidents that killed 20 and injured 76 on Saturday.
Two buses collided on a highway in Du'an County in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, killing 13 and injuring at least 75 others.
Eleven people were killed on the spot and two others died in hospital. At least 75 people were injured in the crash, with 50 still in hospital undergoing treatment. Five are in a critical condition.
In a separate accident, a road collapse in Guizhou Province on Saturday killed seven people and seriously injured one, local authorities said.
Eight villagers from Shunhe Village in Suiyang County were standing on a road they had just built when it collapsed, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Eight people were buried in the collapse, and six died on the scene from suffocation and serious injuries. The other two were rushed to a local hospital, where one later died. The cause of the two accidents is being investigated.
There were no further reports of accidents by late last night.
Meanwhile, an estimated 3.3 million passengers traveled by train yesterday, on a par with the same day last year. About 50 million people traveled by bus, while 650,000 took boats.
Zhang Zhenli, a Ministry of Railways official in charge of seasonal transport, said the country's transport system was under less pressure during the first few days of the season than at the same time in previous years. Zhang said the winter holiday for university students fell earlier than usual, and most of the 9.6 million students had already returned home.
In addition, with train ticket prices not increasing this year as they usually do during the festival, many people may delay their travel, he said.
"We estimate that the peak period will fall from February 13 to 16, when it gets closer to lunar new year's eve," he said.
China sees the world's largest annual mass migration of people every year during Spring Festival. Hundreds of millions of migrant workers, university students and others who work far away from their hometowns flock home for family reunions before making the return journey, posing a formidable challenge to the country's transport system.
This year's 40-day Spring Festival travel season, or Chunyun, will end on March 14. A record 156 million passengers are expected to travel by train and 2 billion bus trips will be made.
Source: China Daily