A four-year-old boy in south China has died after he was left in a school bus for five hours in the blistering heat.
The child had been sleeping and did not get off with the rest of his classmates when the vehicle arrived at the Damao Golden Cradle Kindergarten in Wanning, Hainan province at 8:30am on May 30, according to Chinese reports.
The driver and teacher did not realise the boy was still on the bus and the child was found unconscious by school staff at 1:30pm.
Temperatures in Wanning city on that day soared to 33 degrees Celsius, according to the city’s weather bureau.
The child was rushed to hospital but died of heatstroke three days later, according to Hainan Daily quoting the boy’s father.
‘My child was forgotten on the school bus – this is a serious dereliction of duty from the teacher and the driver,’ the devastated father, surnamed Zhou, told reporters.
The driver, surnamed Wen, and two female teachers, surnamed Lin and Fu, have been criminally detained by police for investigations. The kindergarten’s principal was also detained but later released on bail due to her being eight months pregnant.
An official in charge of the preschool department of the Wanning Education Bureau has been dismissed, according to authorities in a follow-up report in Hainan Daily.
The kindergarten has also been shut down and students sent to other preschools, officials added.
Children who are stuck in a hot car could face dehydration, heatstroke and death.
In the United States, an average of 37 children die every year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles, according to charity organisation Kids and Cars.
The survey also showed that in more than 55 per cent of the cases the children had been unknowingly left behind. Other instances included children who had accidentally locked themselves in a car and failed to open the door.
Although such figures from China are yet to be released, reports of similar incidents have appeared multiple times this year.
In April, a four-year-old girl in Yiyang, Hunan province died after she was trapped in her father’s car for nine hours.
The parent was about to drop the child off at kindergarten when he got off the car and became distracted playing on his mobile phone. He then drove the vehicle to a parking lot and left the child inside.
The girl, nicknamed Qi Qi, was found unconscious in the back footwell of the SUV and was rushed to hospital, where doctors declared that she had suffocated.
In a similar case last April, a pair of siblings aged four and six were found dead after locking themselves inside the car by accident in Anhui Province. The police believed they died of heatstroke.
In July, two boys in two different provinces of China died in hot cars after being forgotten for hours by their care-takers.