A single vehicle traffic accident north of Kunming has left twelve people dead this week. Icy road conditions have been blamed for causing the driver of a minivan to lose control and drive off a cliff, according to a report by Yunnan Daily.
The incident occurred on January 15 in Luquan (禄劝), an autonomous county roughly one hundred kilometers north of Kunming. A family surnamed Wang, accompanied by several friends, were driving through the mountains to visit relatives when their minivan is thought to have hit a patch of ice.
Arriving at the accident, police investigators and emergency workers found the seven-passenger van in a ravine 80 meters below the highway. Eleven of the passengers were pronounced dead at the scene and the twelfth and final member of the group later died at a nearby hospital.
An inquiry into the crash is ongoing, as is maintenance work on the stretch of road where the accident occurred. Yunnan's Deputy Secretary-General, Yang Bin (杨斌), was dispatched to Luquan, where he is overseeing the investigation and meeting with families of the deceased.
Like many of Yunnan's mountainous country roads, the stretch of tarmac where Wednesday's accident took place is cut into a nearly vertical cliff. Pictures clearly show there are no curbs, guardrails or any other safety measure that could prevent vehicles from leaving the dirt roadway.
A photo essay of the crash, published on website 163.com, reported the Luquan road is known to be treacherous, especially in winter. Several car rollovers along the road have been reported in recent weeks, although no fatalities.
Perhaps not coincidentally, hours after the crash, official provincial website Yunnan Net issued driving safety tips for travelers during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday. The article reminds drivers to obey speed limits, avoid overcrowding in vehicles, refrain from passing on blind curves and to "be courteous to pedestrians".
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