A driver deliberately crashed a bus full of passengers into a reservoir in southwestern China, hours after discovering his house had been demolished, local police said Monday.
Twenty-one people died and 15 were injured on July 7 when the bus swerved across five lanes, smashed through a guard rail and partially sank, according to police in the city of Anshun, in Guizhou province.
There were 12 students on the bus at the time of the crash, five of whom died, according to state media. Some of the students were about to sit their their college entrance exams, known as the gaokao, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
The driver, surnamed Zhang, was among those killed.
“Zhang was unsatisfied with his life and with the demolition of his rented public house. In order to get noticed, he committed an extreme criminal act,” the Anshun police statement said.
According to police, Zhang normally began his shift at noon, but on the day of the incident he asked another driver if he could take his slot and start earlier.
Police say just after 9 a.m, he bought a bottle of baijiu, a strong Chinese alcohol, before pouring it into a plastic beverage container which he drank.
At least 200ml of baijiu was found by police near the crash site.
Just before the crash, Zhang sent his girlfriend a voice message on messaging app WeChat, expressing “world-weary” feelings. Before he drove the bus into the reservoir, he was seen by some passengers drinking from the plastic beverage bottle in the driver’s seat.
Chinese paper, China Daily said that Zhang had been given the rental property when he worked at a diesel engine factory in Anshun’s Xixiu district but he hadn’t lived there for some time.
Police say he had known the house was marked for demolition as part of a “shantytown reconstruction project,” and he had applied for compensation and new housing, but while he was offered $10,360 for losing the house, he didn’t claim it and he was turned down for new accommodation, China Daily reports.
On the day he allegedly planned the the crash, he had found out in the morning that the house had been demolished, leaving him homeless.