China bus slides off snow-covered bridge; 18 dead

January 4, 2012 - 11:36 PM

BEIJING (AP) — A bus went out of control and slipped from a snow-covered bridge in southern China, killing at least 18 people and injuring 37, state media reported Thursday.

The overloaded bus was carrying 57 people when it crashed in Guizhou province Wednesday afternoon, the Xinhua News Agency said. It had been traveling from the central province of Anhui when it plunged from the bridge into a valley 30 feet (10 meters) below.

The accident follows the deaths of 13 people on Tuesday in central Hunan province, where a truck crossed a highway divider and crashed head-on into a bus traveling in the opposite direction. A separate truck-bus collision in the southwestern province in Yunnan on Wednesday killed eight and injured 13, Xinhua said Thursday.

The accidents came at the start of the annual Lunar New Year travel crunch, in which millions of people travel by plane, train and bus to visit family. The holiday this year falls on Jan. 23.

Road safety is a serious problem in China, with many accidents caused by poorly maintained roads and bad driving habits.

Badly maintained school transport has been the focus of public anger in recent months after a series of accidents in which schoolchildren were killed.