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Authorities order check of school bus safety after accident kills 15 students in E. China

(Xinhua)

08:57, December 14, 2011

BEIJING/XUZHOU Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Ministry of Education issued an order on Tuesday for middle and primary schools as well as kindergartens around the nation to double check school bus safety.

The order came after a school bus accident in east Zhejiang province killed at least 15 pupils on Monday, marking the third serious school bus accident to occur in China in less than a month.

The ministry also dispatched a work team to look into the accident. At least eight children are still hospitalized, one still in a critical condition.

The accident occurred at 5:50 p.m. Monday in Fengxian county. The bus was taking 29 students home when it veered into a roadside ditch and overturned after the driver tried to avoid colliding with a pedicab.

Students became trapped at the bottom of the overturned bus and drowned as water gushed into the wreck, said Zhang Bin, deputy head of the Fengxian county government.

First grader Zhang Huatuo from the village of Zhanghoutun was one of the lucky few students on the bus to escape without serious injury.

"The bus overturned and everybody was crying," Zhang said. "I was so scared at the time, till finally someone came to my rescue."

Local villagers and workers from a nearby food-processing factory rushed to the scene shortly after the accident.

Zhang Shunli from Zhanghoutun was passing by the site of the accident. He jumped into the chilly water and pulled out children from the windows of the bus.

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