19 killed, 20 injured in road accident in eastern China

Emergency first responders wearing protective masks stand along a street in the Iranian capital Tehran on February 24, 2020. - Iran's government vowed on February 24 to be transparent after being accused of covering up the deadliest coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak outside China as it dismissed claims the toll could be as high as 50. The authorities in the Islamic republic have come under mounting public pressure since it took days for them to admit to "accidentally" shooting down a Ukrainian airliner last month, killing 176 people. Iran has been scrambling to contain the outbreak since it announced the first two deaths in the holy city of Qom on February 19. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Nineteen people died and 20 were injured Sunday in a road traffic accident in eastern China’s Jiangxi province, state media reported.

The “major road traffic accident” took place just before 1:00 am (1700 GMT) in Nanchang County, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing local authorities.

“The cause of the accident is under in-depth investigation,” CCTV added.

Local news outlet Jimu, affiliated with the state-owned Hubei Daily Media Group, reported the accident took place when a truck hit a funeral procession.

People had been carrying out a roadside offering to the dead before planning to head to the crematorium Sunday morning, a local woman surnamed Deng told the outlet.

They were then hit by a truck, the report said, with most of the dead and injured being funeral attendees.

Another local man, surnamed Gong, told the outlet his wife had been killed in the accident and that they had been attending the funeral.

The truck had suddenly crashed into the back of the line, tearing through the group before finally reaching the hearse, he said.

Around an hour after news of the accident emerged, Nanchang County traffic police issued travel tips to drivers saying the area was experiencing “foggy weather”.

“Driving visibility is poor, there is low visibility, which can easily cause traffic accidents,” it said.

“Please pay attention to fog lights… slow down, drive carefully, keep a safe distance from the car in front, avoid pedestrians, do not change lanes and overtake,” it added.

Road accidents are common in China due to a lack of strict safety controls.

Last month, one person died during a highway pile-up in central China that involved hundreds of vehicles and was caused by low visibility in fog.

And in September, 27 passengers died after a bus transporting them to quarantine facilities in southwestern Guizhou province flipped over on a motorway.