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11 children die in van pond plunge

A van carrying 15 nursery students plunged into a roadside pond in a rural area of eastern China today, killing 11 children, state media and an official said.

Three children died at the scene of the accident in Guixi city in Jiangxi province and another eight died later in hospital, said an official from the propaganda office of the city's Communist Party committee.

Four children survived, said the official.

Police detained the driver for questioning and were investigating the cause of the accident, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Photos on the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post's website showed a silver minivan partially submerged in a grassy pond, with one of its three windows on the right side broken.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement that cited no sources that the van was made to carry seven people but was overloaded with 17. The human rights group also said it took 70 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

Serious traffic accidents are common in China, due to poorly maintained vehicles and reckless driving habits.

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