A fatal bus accident on Monday killed 17 people and injured 24 others in southwest China's Guizhou Province, sources with the provincial work safety watchdog said Monday.
The accident happened at 5:30 AM Monday when a bus plunged off the Guibi Highway in Qianxi County, Bijie Prefecture in western Guizhou, sources with the provincial work safety bureau said.
The bus ploughed through guard rails along the highway, and plunged about 20 meters, plowing down several trees and landing in a corn field.
Three children were among the dead, while the injured are being treated in local hospitals.
"The death toll could rise as some passengers were critically injured," said Li Hong, deputy director of the provincial work safety bureau.
He said the accident may have been caused by driver fatigue as it occurred in the early morning, but the exact cause of the accident has yet to be determined.
The bus registered in the neighboring Yunnan Province, was carrying 41 passengers and was not overloaded.
The accident occurred on the last day of the seven-day May Day holidays which started on May 1.
Figures released by the State Council Work Safety Committee on Sunday indicate 75 people died in 33 accidents in the first four days of the month.
Sixteen were killed in a car accident in Yunnan on Friday when a truck suffered break failure and ploughed into a crowd of people waiting for a bus.
A coal mine explosion the following day has claimed 28 lives, with two others still missing in northern Shanxi Province.
In a separate accident in Guizhou Sunday, a mini-van veered off a road in Panxian county, killing five people and injuring two others.
(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2007)