Bus crashes into methanol tanker in northwest China, killing 36

YAN'AN, CHINA (BNO NEWS) -- A double-decker sleeper bus slammed into the back of a truck carrying highly flammable methanol on a highway in northwestern China on Sunday, causing both vehicles to burst into flames and killing 36 people, government officials said on Monday.

The accident happened at around 2:40 a.m. local time on Sunday when the 39-seat double-decker bus rear-ended a truck carrying methanol on the Baotou-Maoming expressway near Yan'an, a prefecture-level city in the Shanbei region of Shaanxi province. The bus, owned by Hohhot Municipal Transport Group, was fully loaded.

Both vehicles immediately burst into flames, killing nearly everyone on board the bus. "Currently, on-site personnel have ended the clean-up work," a spokesperson for the State Administration of Work Safety said. "The accident resulted in the deaths of 36 people and three were injured."

The three injured people were all passengers on the double-decker bus, although their conditions were not immediately known. Two people who were in the truck were not injured and have been taken into police custody as an investigation is being carried out, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Hohhot Municipal Transport Group, which said the bus was traveling from Hohhot in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to Xi'an in Shaanxi province, released the names of 20 victims on Monday. The list indicates that at least twelve of the victims were from the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Henan, as well as the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, but it was not immediately known where the other victims were from.

Roads in China are known to be among the most dangerous in the world with more than 70,000 fatalities and 300,000 injuries a year, according to the country's Public Security Ministry. Many accidents are the result of drivers violating traffic laws, fatigue, poor road conditions and overloaded vehicles.

Last month, fourteen people were killed and eight others were injured when a farming diesel tricycle veered off a stone bridge in Nanyang, a town near Ningde City in Fujian province, and plunged down into a valley. The vehicle was carrying as many as 22 people, even though farm vehicles are banned from being used for transportation.

In late June, seventeen people were killed and nearly 30 others were injured when a long-distance sleeper bus plunged into a ravine in Xiapu county of Fujian province. Officials said the vehicle overturned as it was on a bridge on an expressway, after which the bus fell more than 50 meters (164 feet) into a ravine below.

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