BEIJING: Chinese authorities confirmed on Tuesday (Oct 12) 13 people had died after a bus plunged into a rushing river amid heavy flooding that has caused 15 other fatalities in the north.
State broadcaster CCTV said another 37 people from the bus had been rescued, among which seven were hospitalised, and the driver had been placed in custody. One person remained missing.
The crash occurred on Monday after heavy rains caused flooding that destroyed homes and covered farmland in two provinces near the national capital Beijing.
Official news website The Paper said the bus driver ignored warnings not to attempt to cross the bridge that was almost covered by the surging flood waters. Videos posted online showed people on top of the almost-submerged bus as water was flowing over the nearby bridge outside the Hebei provincial capital of Shijiazhuang.
In Shanxi province just west of Hebei, 15 people have died in floods that have caused a direct economic loss of more than 5 billion yuan (US$770 million), CCTV reported. More than 120,000 people had been evacuated in the province as thousands of houses collapsed and 190,000 hectares of crops were damaged.
Floods have also disrupted coal mining operations in the area amid a nationwide shortage of the fuel. The stoppage comes as the government is trying to address power shortages that have affected industry and even some homes.
Shanxi, normally a dry region, has also shuttered 166 tourist sites after flooding damaged a section of an ancient city wall in the historic town of Pingyao, a UNESCO World Heritage site.