BEIJING - Five road accidents in the past two days have claimed 58 lives as hundreds of millions of Chinese journeyed home amid the Spring Festival travel rush that started last week.
Nineteen people were killed in two accidents on Saturday, both involving overloaded vehicles veering off the road. In south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 19 people were in a van when it tumbled down a 30-meter-deep ravine on a mountain road in Daxin County.
The accident, which happened around 9 a.m., killed seven passengers and injured 12 others, police said.
Almost at the same time, an overloaded coach turned over and crashed along a 100-meter slope in southwestern Guizhou Province, killing 12 people onboard, rather than the previously reported 13, after a hospital reported a mistake in their count of the deceased.
The coach, designed for 19 passengers, was carrying 34 people to a bullfight activity when the accident occurred in Congjiang County, some 450 km southeast of the provincial capital Guiyang, sources with the county government said.
On Friday night, another bus in the northwestern province of Gansu fell into a ravine and caught fire near the county seat of Ningxian, Qingyang City.
Six corpses were found shortly after the accident, and two other people died in the hospital after rescue efforts failed.
Rescuers have recovered ten more bodies from the scene of the accident as of Saturday evening, bringing the death toll to 18.
Thirty-two passengers, mostly migrant farmers and their family members, were injured in the accident.
Also on Friday, a coach carrying 29 people flipped over into a 100-meter-deep slope in the southwestern province of Sichuan, killing 11 onboard and injuring 18 others.
These accidents occurred as China's transportation sector gears up for the Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, the most important occasion for family reunions that falls on February 10 this year.
A record 3.41 billion trips are expected to be made over this year's Spring Festival travel rush, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's economic planner.
The country's rail network is expected to handle 225 million trips, while long-distance buses will carry up to 3.1 billion passengers this year. Trains and long-distances buses will be the modes of transportation in 99 percent of all trips.
However, speeding, overloading and bad driving habits compounded with poor road conditions, especially in some mountainous regions, often lead to a rash of road accidents around this time of the year.
Traffic accidents on China's roads result in about 70,000 deaths and 300,000 injuries each year, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
Meanwhile, China's Lunar New Year holiday is also a time when people set off fireworks to celebrate. Improper storage and transportation of the explosives is another reason behind deadly accidents ahead of the holiday.
On Friday morning, 10 people died and 11 others were injured when an expressway viaduct partially collapsed after an explosion involving a truck carrying fireworks for holiday celebrations in central China's Henan Province.
The accident occurred around 9 a.m. on a 30-meter-high viaduct in Mianchi County, Sanmenxia City, about 193 km west of the provincial capital of Zhengzhou.
An 80-meter stretch of the southern lane of the viaduct collapsed with at least 25 vehicles on it. The probe into the accident is underway.