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China’s fatal quarantine bus crash sparks online outcry over Covid-19 controls

Anger in China over strict Covid-19 measures flared to a level matching the early days of the pandemic, after a bus carrying people from the southern city of Guiyang to a quarantine centre crashed on Sunday, killing 27 and injuring 20.

Guiyang vice-mayor Lin Gang apologised on Sunday night after the crash, which happened soon after 2am as the bus was heading to Libo, a mountainous county about 260km (160 miles) from the city.

He did not elaborate on the government’s role in the crash, or what the apology was for. Instead, Lin said the government would “inspect safety risks in transporting people to quarantine” as well as investigate the cause of the incident.

Three officials from Yunyan district, where the bus victims were from, were suspended from duty pending an investigation, the Guizhou provincial government said on Monday.

The officials are district Communist Party secretary Zhu Gang; Song Chengqiang, who was in charge of transferring residents; and Xiao Lingyun, deputy party secretary of police in Yunyan.

An unidentified official said the province and city were investigating the crash and those responsible would be punished.

But the apology and the suspensions did little to curtail the backlash, with more than 69,000 comments on social media in the 24 hours after the crash, and related topics on microblogging site Weibo viewed more than 400 million times.

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