A highway pile-up in central China has killed 16 people, including seven in a single collision, and injured 66 others.
Traffic police said in a statement on Sunday that nearly 50 vehicles were involved in multiple collisions along a highway in Hunan province within the span of 10 minutes, "with some vehicles catching on fire".
The accident took place on Saturday night.
"The injured were promptly sent to hospital for thorough treatment, including eight whose injuries were relatively severe, whose vital signs are currently stable," the traffic police said.
Footage republished online by the state-owned People's Daily showed multiple burning trucks bearing the logos of delivery companies, crushed and overturned cars and a dark cloud of smoke rising from the crashes.
People's Daily said the pile-up took place in the provincial capital Changsha, and that more than 180 rescue workers were dispatched to the scene on Saturday.
READ MORE: At least 36 people killed in a road accident in northwest China
Holiday travel rush
In early January, a traffic accident in the southern Chinese province of Jiangxi killed 19 people and injured 20 others as the annual Lunar New Year holiday travel rush got underway, authorities said.
Major traffic accidents, often caused by fatigued drivers and poorly maintained or overloaded vehicles, used to be common, but tighter regulations have reduced their frequency in recent years.
Enforcement efforts on the condition of vehicles and drivers and passenger numbers are redoubled around the time of the holiday, China’s most important family gatherings when tens of millions of migrant workers return to their hometowns.
With the end of most Covid-19 restrictions, the number of such trips is expected to double this year to more than 2 billion on and around the weeks-long festival season that starts this year on January 22 and ended Sunday, February 5.
READ MORE: Year of the Water Rabbit: When is the 2023 Chinese Lunar New Year?