Beijing, Jul 7 (efe-epa).- At least 21 people were killed and 15 were injured on Tuesday after a bus carrying students plunged into the Hongshan reservoir in the city of Anshun, situated in China’s southwestern Guizhou province, state media reported.
Although initial reports by local media outlets had informed of just 2 deaths, at 6.30 pm state news agency Xinhua raised the death toll to 21 citing local authorities, nearly seven hours after the accident.
The survivors have been admitted to nearby hospitals for treatment, local newspaper Guizhou Daily reported.
The students were on their way to sit Chinese university entrance exams, known as “gaokao,” according to state broadcaster CCTV, which aired footage of how the bus, for unknown reasons, ran across a highway head-on towards the crash-barrier bordering the lake.
According to videos and photos shared on social media, the bus has already been lifted out of the lake.
State-run newspaper Global Times cited eyewitnesses as saying that no passengers were found inside the vehicle when it was pulled out of the lake.
The accident took place following days of torrential rains that have caused widespread flooding in large parts of the country, especially central and southern provinces such as Hubei, Hunan, Anhui and Guizhou, with Hubei’s capital Wuhan – the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic – recording over 250 mm rain over two days until Monday.
Around 10.7 million Chinese students began taking the university entrance tests from Tuesday amid extensive Covid-19 prevention measures.
The students from regions classified as moderate-to-high risk zones are required to put on face-masks before entering examination halls, while the teachers supervising the tests need to wear them at all times.
In order to minimize the risk of infection, the gaokao have been postponed by a month and are set to last until July 10, with dates varying in different provinces.