Car Hits Street Cleaners, Kills 5 in Harbin
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2017-12-22 02:53:07

Five are dead and two injured after a car accident in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province early this morning, Modern Evening Times, a local media outlet, reported Friday.

A black Nissan drove into a crowd of sanitation workers at around 5 a.m. on an overpass in Harbin, killing four workers on the scene and injuring three, one of whom later died at the hospital. The accident killed one male and four female workers.

According to state-owned China News Service, police said that the driver, surnamed Li, was under the influence of alcohol and is now in criminal detention. Earlier reports said he claimed to have lost control of the vehicle because of a steering wheel malfunction.

Photos taken at the scene show a shattered windshield and damage to the front of the car.

The Ministry of Public Security announced a nationwide campaign Friday to crack down on drunk driving, especially on roads near restaurants and entertainment venues. It said drunk driving occurs more during holiday periods, such as the upcoming new year, when people gather and celebrate with alcohol. The accident in Harbin was the third drunk-driving incident in December in which at least five people died, the ministry said.

Working from dawn in temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius in the winter, street cleaners are exposed to the risk of accidents on the slippery roads. Last Thursday, a female street cleaner was hit and injured in China’s southern Hainan province. And in September, a 70-year-old street cleaner died after being hit by a truck in Jiangsu province.

As early as in 2004, Party newspaper People’s Daily reported that in Guiyang, the capital of southwestern China’s Guizhou province, eight street cleaners died and 49 were injured in one year because of car accidents  almost 1 percent of street cleaners in the city.

This story has updated with new developments.

Editor: Qian Jinghua.

(Header image: The scene of the fatal accident in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, Dec. 22, 2017. From Modern Evening Times’ Weibo account)