GUIZHOU, China (UPI) — A bus that included high school students en route to taking China’s college entrance exam crashed into a lake in the southwestern province of Guizhou, killing 21 people, according to state media on Tuesday.
People’s Daily reported among the 21 people who died one was a student.
China Central Television reported the bus plunged into Hongshan Lake in Anshun, and people were rescued and transferred to a nearby hospital. Some people died en route to receiving care; state media did not disclose the number of people who remain missing following the accident.
Performance on China’s college entrance exam is believed to be the key to future prospects of students.
Dubbed the “exam of destiny,” the test has been likened to “the stampede of 10,000 horses trying to cross a single log bridge.”
The exam was postponed for a month due to the coronavirus epidemic that was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December. More than 10.7 million students took the annual exam on Tuesday, also known as “gaokao,” while complying with health measures, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported.
The exam takes place Tuesday and Wednesday in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Some regions of the country are to hold the exams across a four-day period.
Students showing symptoms of illness, including fever and cough, have been permitted to take the exam in “rooms for quarantine,” but only after going through two temperature checks, according to Xinhua.
Students also began to undergo temperature checks two weeks before the exam, the report says.
Masks are optional for students in regions of China that have been deemed “low risk,” while high-risk areas are requiring students to wear masks as they take the test.
The test score Chinese students receive on the exam is often the only factor in determining university admission. That placement has a long-running impact on career opportunities in China.
To guard against cheating, local authorities could use artificial intelligence to monitor the students, according to China Daily.
Reporting by Elizabeth Shim