Authorities urged public transportation service companies to pay special attention to drivers' physical and psychological conditions after a bus plunged into a reservoir in Anshun, Guizhou province, on Tuesday.
The bus broke through a guardrail and fell into the Hongshan Reservoir in Anshun's Xixiu district at around 12:30 pm, causing 21 deaths. Five of the dead were local students, the city government said on its Weibo account.
It said another 16 who were injured were rushed to hospitals. The rescue work and investigation are ongoing, and the number of casualties is still unknown.
According to the city government, the driver, surnamed Zhang, was among the dead. Zhang, 52, was a local resident who had been a bus driver since 1997.
On Tuesday evening, the Ministry of Transport released a warning notice, urging related departments at all levels to make stronger efforts to guarantee public safety, especially during the summer vacation.
"As traveling needs increase during the summer vacation, we should make people's lives the priority and further check for potential risks in the public transportation system," the notice said.
Drivers with health problems should be temporarily prohibited from working, it said.
Further, the notification asked bus companies to strengthen monitoring and prevent those potential risks from threatening lives.
On Wednesday, the Guizhou provincial transportation department announced plans to implement several policies to prevent similar cases from happening again.
Apart from strengthening fences along rivers and lakes, the department will conduct training for drivers on professional ethics and skills, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding lives.
Moreover, it will initiate research on building a counseling mechanism for drivers in the public transportation system, offering psychological aid to those who need it.
After the accident, several departments sent special teams from Beijing to aid rescue and investigation efforts, including the Ministry of Emergency Management, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Transport.
Du Hangwei, vice-minister of the Ministry of Public Security, has gone to Anshun to take part in the investigation of the accident, the ministry announced on Tuesday.
According to the Guizhou Emergency Management Office, the bus-which ran on route No 2 in the city and was purchased last year-was salvaged from the reservoir at about 3 pm on Tuesday afternoon.
Experts from both the National Health Commission and Guizhou health department are providing medical aid to those who were rescued.
A rescue team member revealed that the depth of water the bus fell into was about 10 meters, and the bus was "full of people".
Yang Jun in Guiyang contributed to this story.
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