27 people killed in Covid quarantine bus crash in China




CNN
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Anger and criticism over China’s relentless zero Covid policy erupted after a bus carrying residents to a virus quarantine facility crashed, killing 27 people.

Authorities said the bus was carrying 47 people from Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province, to a distant county 155 miles (249 kilometers), when it overturned on a mountainous stretch of highway and fell into a ravine around 2:40. a m

It is unclear why a quarantine bus would take people on winding mountain roads after midnight. Chinese transport regulations prohibit long-distance coaches from running between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

A photo widely circulated on social media shows the bus driving at night, with the driver wearing a full hazmat suit that left only his eyes uncovered. Other photos and videos show the bus being towed by a truck, its roof crushed and a hazmat suit worker spraying disinfectant on it. Although CNN cannot independently verify the photos and videos, the bus license plate in the image matches the plate number reported by authorities.

Survivors of the accident are currently receiving treatment in hospital, authorities said.

News of the deaths sparked a huge outcry on Chinese social media, with many questioning the increasingly over-the-top implementation of the zero-Covid policy, which relies on instant lockdowns, mass testing and sweeping measures. quarantine to curb epidemics.

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Strict and prolonged shutdowns have recently sparked outcry in cities ranging from Guiyang, Chengdu to Jinan, as well as regions of Xinjiang and Tibet.

“What makes you think you won’t be on that night bus someday?” read a viral comment, which garnered over 250,000 likes before it was censored.

“We are all on the bus. We just haven’t crashed yet,” another comment said.

Chinese censors rushed to cover the outrage. Many state media posts about the accident closed the comments section and search results appeared to have filtered out. A related hashtag drew more than 450 million views on Sunday evening, but only posts from official government and media accounts were shown.

A Guizhou resident who said her friend was killed on the bus took to Weibo to demand accountability from the Guiyang government. His posts were shared widely, sparking an outpouring of anger and sympathy. The user declined CNN’s interview requests and then hid his posts.

Guizhou officials are under enormous pressure to contain even small-scale Covid outbreaks ahead of the 20th Party Congress, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to secure a norm-breaking third term in power.

Guizhou reported 712 infections on Saturday, accounting for 70 percent of new cases nationwide. Nine local officials in Guiyang have already been suspended this month for failing to properly implement Covid policies.

On Saturday, Guiyang officials vowed to “fight a decisive battle” to eliminate community transmission. In zero Covid China, a common solution used by local authorities is to bus entire buildings or communities of residents out of town to quarantine elsewhere.

In Guiyang, which was placed under lockdown earlier this month, authorities prepared 20 buses and 40 drivers to transport close contacts of Covid cases to other cities, the state-run Guiyang Evening Paper reported. . As of Saturday, more than 7,000 people had been transferred and nearly 3,000 were awaiting evacuation.

According to government data, only two people have died from Covid in Guizhou, a province of 38 million people, since the start of the pandemic.


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