Report: China orders preschool inspections after 3 toddlers die on school buses

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BEIJING (AP) — China has ordered tougher inspections of private preschools and kindergartens after the deaths of three toddlers who were left on school buses for up to seven hours, state media reported on Friday.

In the latest case, 2-year-old Qiu Chenyang died on Monday after he was left on a bus for seven hours in Dongguan, a city in southern Guangdong province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The boy's mother put him on a bus to the Aixin Bilingual Kindergarten at 8:30 a.m. and when other children got off, the boy stayed on, perhaps as punishment for crying, Xinhua reported. School officials found him seven hours later and took him to a hospital where he was declared dead from suffocation, it said.

Temperatures in the area that day topped 93 degrees, the report said. Qiu's death was being investigated.

A 20-month old child died Aug. 20 in Guangdong's Foshan city after being left on a school bus for six hours, the report said. On May 29, a 3-year-old in central Anhui province was found dead after being left on a bus for six hours.

Xinhua said the Ministry of Education issued an urgent notice requiring local governments to thoroughly inspect private kindergartens because of the three recent child deaths.

Chinese living standards have improved in step with the country's rapid economic growth, creating a large market for private — and often bilingual — daycare centers and schools. The sudden expansion of the lucrative business has made it hard to regulate.

Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying that authorities should check that schools employ only qualified teachers and drivers and require them to carefully count students as they get on and off school buses.

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