World

21 dead after bus plunges into lake in south-western China

BEIJING: At least 21 people were killed when a bus carrying students preparing to take their annual college entrance exam plunged into a lake in south-west China yesterday.

The bus crashed into a guardrail and veered into Hongshan Lake in Guizhou province, leaving 15 others injured, the local emergency management department said.

The incident took place around noon in Anshun city and eyewitnesses said the passengers on the bus included students who were taking thetough gaokao examinations that day, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Security camera footage shared on social media by CCTV showed the vehicle veering across at least five lanes and cutting into oncoming traffic before it ploughed through barriers on the other side of the road.

Nearly 11 million stressed-out Chinese students took the gruelling annual college entrance exam yesterday following a month-long coronavirus delay, with inspectors this year checking both for cheaters and fevers.

The two-day test is an annual moment of great anxiety for students and parents who dream of sending their children to university, but the coronavirus added another layer of pressure by closing schools for months.

At a testing centre in Beijing, students took selfies and exchanged hugs and high-fives with family and friends before going in for the exam.

"I'm actually more nervous than my son," said a 49-year-old parent who gave her surname as Yi.

"The pandemic did impact him. He hasn't gone to school for seven months since the school closed in January. He is too young to swiftly adapt to these big changes in our society."

More than 7,000 exam sites have been set up across China, with nearly one million invigilators or other workers to watch over the students, according to state media.

Officials were not just looking for cheats. They watched students for fevers or coughs.

Test-takers who show symptoms were to be taken to an isolation room with disinfectant, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The students and invigilators had to track their health during the 14 days prior to the exam. Students from high-risk areas had to wear masks during the tests. - AFP

WORLD