BEIJING: Chinese officials confirmed on Tuesday that 13 people were killed after a bus fell into a river amid heavy flooding, killing 15 others in the north.
State broadcaster CCTV said 37 others had been rescued from the bus, seven of whom were hospitalized and the driver was taken into custody. One person remained missing.
The crash occurred on Monday after heavy rains covered homes and fields in two provinces near the national capital Beijing.
Official news website The Paper said the bus driver ignored warnings not to attempt to cross the bridge that was nearly covered by flood waters. Videos posted online showed people on top of a nearly submerged bus as water was flowing over a nearby bridge outside the Hebei provincial capital of Shijiazhuang.
In Shanxi province, west of Hebei, 15 people have died in the floods, causing direct economic losses of more than 5 billion yuan (US$770 million), CCTV reported. More than 120,000 people were evacuated in the province after thousands of homes collapsed and 190,000 hectares (470,000 acres) of crops were damaged.
The floods have also disrupted coal mining operations in the region amid fuel shortage across the country. The standstill comes as the government tries to address the power shortage that has hit industry and even some households.
Shanxi, a typically dry region, has also closed 166 tourist sites after floods damaged a section of an ancient city wall in the historic city of Pingyao, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.