Beijing: At least 15 primary students were killed and 45 others injured in two separate accidents involving school buses in China, the latest in a series of deadly crashes involving children, officials said on Tuesday.

The first accident took place on Monday afternoon when a bus overturned and plunged into a ditch in Fengxian County, Jiangsu province, killing 15 students and injuring 8 others, officials said.

At least eight other children are still hospitalised, said Zhang Bin, deputy head of the Fengxian county government.

A news agency said the bus had attempted to avoid a pedicab but ended up crashing into the ditch, which was filled with water. It said some of the trapped students on the bus were drowned or suffocated as water rushed in.

The bus was carrying 29 students on board when the accident happened. The driver, who suffered only minor injuries, has been detained by the police, a news agency said.

In the second accident, a school bus carrying 59 pupils was hit by a heavy-duty truck in the city of Foshan in south China's Guangdong Province, injuring 37 students.

Seven of the injured, one seriously, have been hospitalised, Cai Yaoxin, an official with Foshan's Lecong township government, said on Tuesday.

The accidents occurred just one day after a draft of new school bus safety rules was published by the government for public scrutiny.

Last month, 19 children were killed when a school bus packed with 64 passengers collided with a truck in Gansu, northwestern China.

This triggered widespread anger across China about the safety of school buses, forcing the government to come out with new policy guidelines on the issue.

Schools are few in numbers in the vast and sparsely populated rural areas of China.

School bus is a relatively new thing in some rural areas as for decades children from the countryside had been trekking on rugged country roads on foot to attend school.

But rural school buses vary on quality and safety issues.

(Agencies)