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China pledges nationwide checks, more spending on school bus safety

(Xinhua)

21:10, November 29, 2011

BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- China is starting a nationwide schoolbus safety check and pledging to spend on buses in wake of a recent schoolbus accident that claimed the lives of 19 preschoolers, the country's safety watchdog said on Tuesday.

In an online statement, the Work Safety Committee Office under the State Council, or China's cabinet, urged local education departments to conduct inspections of school commuting programs and immediately close any existing safety loopholes.

Local governments should increase spending on schoolbuses and offer more subsidies from local public financiers while creating detailed safety regulations and standards for the country's schoolbuses, the statement said.

Twenty-one people, including 19 preschoolers and two adults, died and 43 others were injured earlier this month when a nine-seat school bus illegally carrying 64 people collided head-on with a coal truck in northwest China's Gansu province.

The accident has revealed problems in the country's schoolbus management, including regulatory loopholes, unimplemented safety measures and a failure to carry out government responsibilities, said the office.

The office pledged to severely punish those responsible for the accident and work to improve schoolbus safety.

Efforts will also be made to promote safety education for both students and bus drivers, it said.

Premier Wen Jiabao said Sunday that relevant government departments should "rapidly" create safety regulations and standards for the country's schoolbuses while further improving the design, production, upgrading and distribution of the vehicles.

Central and local governments will bear the cost of bringing the buses up to standard, Wen said.

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