Bus Accident Leaves 27 People Dead in China

At least 27 people were killed in a highway bus accident in southwestern China’s Guizhou province early Sunday morning, with a local media report saying the vehicle was usually used to ferry people to Covid quarantine facilities.

The vehicle carrying 47 passengers overturned, and those who survived were injured, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing local authorities.

The bus was used to transfer people to Covid quarantine facilities for the province’s capital city of Guiyang, the Guizhou Daily reported, without providing specifics. On-site rescue is completed and an investigation into the cause of the accident is underway, it said.

Incidents and struggles linked to China’s Covid-Zero strategy have gone viral domestically and triggered anger toward authorities. Chinese internet users have criticized the country’s Covid response such as strict stay-at-home orders.

The bus accident comes just weeks before the Communist Party holds its twice-a-decade leadership summit, where President Xi Jinping is expected to break precedent by securing a third term in office. His opening address at the event will be scrutinized for signals on whether China will shift from trying to eliminate the virus to living with it like the rest of the world.

“This is the exact kind of incident the leadership wants to avoid, at all cost, before the Congress, to keep social stability,” said Andy Chen, a senior analyst with Beijing-based consultancy Trivium China. “It also happens to be the kind of event people who oppose the ongoing Covid-control policies will try to play up and point to to demand changes.”

Chen said authorities could make an example out of the accident by severely punishing officials who they deem responsible.

“We should expect heads rolling at the local government in very short order,” he said.

The accident was the most trending search topic on Chinese social media platform Weibo as of Sunday evening. The prime-time 7 p.m. news program on state broadcaster CCTV had no mention of the accident.

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