A river ferry overloaded with primary and secondary school students sank in China's Hunan province, killing at least 11 children, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, citing local authorities.
The students had taken the ferry on Friday to cross a river to bring them from school to their homes for the Chinese mid-autumn festival, traditionally a time for family gatherings.
China sacked three officials on Sunday for the accident, including a deputy chief of the county, Xinhua said.
The ferry, designed to accommodate 14 passengers, had at least 50 people on board when it ran into riverside cables used by sand-dredging ships, Xinhua said.
But Caixin, a respected Chinese magazine, reported on its website that the ferry owner said that between 80 and 90 passengers were aboard the ship when it sank.
Twitter-style microblogs on Chinese Internet portal Sina.com also claimed that "dozens" were killed in the accident and the local government was under-reporting the number.
Traffic accidents involving students in rural China have been rising, partly due to insufficient public spending on school buses.
ReutersLast Mod: 11 Eylül 2011, 12:43