BEIJING (Reuters) – Nineteen people died and 20 were injured in eastern China after a truck ran through a funeral procession early Sunday, according to Chinese media reports.
The incident happened just before 1 a.m. local time (5 p.m. GMT) in Nanchang County in eastern China’s Jiangxi province on Sunday, state broadcaster CCTV said, adding that the injured had been sent to hospital and an investigation was under way.
It did not provide additional details, but Jimu News, a news outlet run by the state-owned Chutian Metropolis Daily in Hubei province, said the incident happened when a truck hit a funeral procession.
More than 60 people had been walking along the roadside before heading to the crematorium, one participant, surnamed Gong, told the outlet. His wife was killed in the accident and his leg was injured, Gong said, adding that it wasn’t foggy when the incident took place.
Nanchang County traffic police posted on its official Weibo account about 7 a.m. on Sunday that some parts of the area were encountering “heavy foggy weather.”
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“Driving visibility is poor, which is likely to cause traffic accidents,” it added.
The accident took place a day after China kickstarted “chun yun”, the 40-day period of Lunar New Year travel, which traditionally sees hundreds of millions of people return to their hometowns to spend the holiday with family.
Another Chinese news outlet, Livestream Hainan, posted an audio interview with an unnamed local resident in which he said that there recently had been a significant number of deaths, leading to long queues at local crematorium.
This had most likely had led the members of the funeral procession to start their rites in the early morning, he added.
Crematoriums across China have described themselves as extremely busy because of coronavirus deaths after China dismantled its zero-COVID regime last month, leading to a massive wave of infections.
China reported two new COVID-related deaths for Saturday, compared to three for Friday. China has said it only counts deaths of COVID patients caused by pneumonia and respiratory failure as COVID-related.
(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh. Editing by Gerry Doyle)
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