Eleven children were killed after a minivan plunged into a pond in east China’s Jiangxi Province on Monday, local officials said.
Fifteen kindergarteners, one teacher and a driver were in the van when the accident happened around 09:00 in a rural area of the city of Guixi, according to authorities.
The local government said the 11 children killed, eight boys and three girls, were four to six years old. Three children died instantly, while another eight died at a local hospital after efforts to save them failed.
The four injured are in stable condition, according to the People’s Hospital of Guixi.
The pond is about 3-4 m deep, according to rescuers and local residents.
Rescuers were still pumping out pond water late Monday to check if there were any other victims.
Tong Huibing, a nearby resident, was among the people who saw the accident happen.
He rushed to the pond barefoot and paddled a boat to the sinking vehicle. He then managed to save two children and a teacher through one of the van’s windows.
“(I saw) a teacher at the (sliding) door. She was holding a child up so that her head was at the surface of the water. I recognized that the child was my daughter when I stretched out my hand and pulled her up. Then I pulled out another child that (the teacher) was holding. I was in a flurry, and tried to save anyone I could,” Tong said.
Tong said the minivan was a “school bus” taking her daughter and 14 other children to Chunlei (Spring Bud) Kindergarten, a private institution run by local Peng Chun’e, who also happened to be the driver of the minivan.
Police have detained Peng for questioning.
Local officials said the private kindergarten has more than 200 children enrolled but has not obtained the proper certification to operate.
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