Outrage over China's draconian Covid-zero policy has furiously coalesced around a tragic incident in which 27 people were killed while being taken to quarantine facilities in the country's southwest.
The bus, which was carrying 47 Covid-positive people, "flipped onto its side" in rural Guizhou province on Sunday (local time), local police said.
A further 20 people were injured after the official government vehicle crashed, all requiring hospital treatment.
The fatal tragedy quickly sparked fury on Chinese social media, despite the government's strict internet controls.
Unverified reports and photos of the bus quickly circulated on Chinese social media, generating a renewed outpouring of anger at China's strict Covid policies and the initial lack of transparency from the authorities.
"All of us are on this bus," was one popular comment being posted on social media app WeChat.
"When will all of this stop?" asked another.
The bus crash quickly became the top trending topic on China's Twitter-like Weibo on Sunday afternoon before, shortly after, it disappeared from the top 50 trending topics.
At least some widely shared and angry blogs on the topic were deleted from WeChat soon after publication, but some reports and comments initially remained, though many of the more critical ones were removed from Weibo.
The government's handling of Covid has created headwinds ahead of the Communist Party's five-yearly congress beginning on Oct. 16, when President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an historic third leadership term.
Local media Caixin reported on Sunday that the victims were being transported for Covid reasons, citing sources at the Sandu County Emergency Management Bureau. Soon after, a report in Tianyan News, which belongs to the state-owned Guizhou Daily, said the bus was a vehicle specifically designed for transporting people to and from Covid quarantine.
Local officials are under pressure to keep outbreaks under control, especially now, in the lead up to the party congress.
Guizhou recorded 712 new confirmed cases on Saturday which made up around 70 percent of all new cases in China and was a big jump from 154 cases in the province the previous day, China's national health commission data showed on Sunday.
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