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UNSETTLING

A woman fought a bus driver before they plunged off a bridge—and it was caught on video

Rescue workers and boats are seen on the site where a public bus plunged into the Yangtze River after colliding with a car in Chongqing, China October 28, 2018.
Reuters/Stringer
The aftermath.
  • Echo Huang
By Echo Huang

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Recovered footage from a bus’s black box is helping police piece together what led to a deadly accident that killed at least 13 people in China over the weekend.

When a bus plunged off a bridge in the southwestern city of Chongqing on Saturday (Oct. 28), the accusations started piling up against the driver of another car traveling in the opposite direction, in part because of her gender.

Local media initially reported incorrectly that she was driving against the flow of traffic, which prompted some internet commenters to call for a ban on female drivers as well as broader discussions of sexism in China. Though she wasn’t found to be at fault, many people continued to discuss the “female driver” on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

The video recovered from the bus, which was released today (Nov. 2), paints a clearer picture of what led to the accident—and like the police had concluded earlier, it doesn’t involve the other driver. The footage shows the bus driver in an altercation with a female passenger in the moments leading up to the accident.

The event continues to captivate China’s internet, with the hashtag #重庆公交车坠江原因# (the reason the Chongqing bus crashed into the river) remaining the top trending topic (link in Chinese) on Weibo as of this writing, having amassed around 660 million views.

Police say both the driver and passenger are suspected of endangering public safety. They had ruled out any bus malfunctions, and said the driver, a 42-year-old surnamed Ran, hadn’t consumed alcohol the night before his early shift.

According to a government statement, a passenger, identified as a 48-year-old woman surnamed Liu, demanded to get off the bus after missing her stop. After the driver refused, Liu is seen arguing with and hitting Ran, attacking him on the head with a mobile phone. The driver tried to fight back and attempted to grab her arm with his right hand when she hit him again. The bus is swerving when he puts his hand back on the wheel. CCTV footage shows the bus plunging off the bridge and into the Yangtze river below.

A rescue team retrieved the bus (link in Chinese), which sank about 70 meters (230 feet), three days after the accident. Police have recovered and identified 13 bodies, but two remain missing, according to the local government (link in Chinese). One of the victims was the father (link in Chinese) of a rescuer who participated in the mission.

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