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4 killed in expressway collision

FOUR people died and two were critically injured in a chain-reaction crash involving three vehicles on the Shanghai-Hangzhou Expressway yesterday morning.

Wreckage was strewed across the highway after a minibus from Shanghai carrying a local family of 10 and its driver collided with a van bearing a Shaoxing license tag less than 1.5 kilometers from the east Jiaxing toll gate shortly after 6am.

The accident sequence began when a truck struck the van from the rear and sent it careening through the median guardrail, causing it to crash nearly head-on into the oncoming minibus, according to expressway traffic police in Zhejiang Province's Jiaxing.

The people who died - three men and a woman - were on the minibus, police said. One was identified as the driver, Chen Weijiang, a 46-year-old Zhejiang native. The dead passengers were Shanghai natives Zhou Weiyi, 55; his wife, Wang Maojuan, 56; and Ruan Yihua, 57.

"There was a big bang when the guardrail was hit. Everyone in the village heard it," Zhou Qiangen of Nanhu District's Daqiang Town told the Nanhu Evening News.

Zhou said three people in the minibus appeared to be dead when about 10 villagers arrived on the scene.

Traffic police rushed all 13 people involved in the accident to a military hospital in Jiaxing.

The van driver and another person in the minibus suffered severe injuries and were in critical condition late yesterday.

The other surviving passengers were slightly injured, authorities said.

Witnesses at the scene said the heavily damaged minibus looked like "a broken white carton." Its windshield and roof were crushed, and the first two rows of seats heavily damaged.

A Ms Cao, a 24-year-old woman sitting in the fourth row of seats, told reporters that her family chartered the minibus to visit the tombs of ancestors in Hangzhou.

"We left from Shanghai early, and after a short while I fell asleep," said Cao, who suffered slight facial injuries. "All of a sudden I heard a big bang. When I was helped out, I saw that the bus was a complete mess."

The minibus belonged to the driver's friend, who asked Chen to drive his relatives to Hangzhou, according to Chen's wife. Police late yesterday were still investigating the cause of the accident.


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