Woman's Brawl With Bus Driver After Missing Her Stop Causes Vehicle to Veer Off Bridge, 13 Dead and 2 Missing

At least 13 people have been killed in China after a fistfight between a bus driver and one of his passengers sent the vehicle plunging into a river.

Two people are still missing after the bus fell into the Yangtze River in Chongqing on Sunday, state newspaper China Daily reported.

Initial reports suggested the bus had swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle and subsequently lost control, but CCTV footage recovered from inside the vehicle shows the driver and passenger in a heated argument.

The video—part of which was published online by China Daily—shows the driver and passenger in a heated argument, before the woman hits the man in the face. The driver then responds with a punch of his own.

Chongqing bus plunge: A fight between a passenger and the driver caused the bus to lose control and plunge into the Yangtze River, killing 15 people on board, according to a local police investigation. Video retrieved from the black box shows the last moment of the doomed bus. pic.twitter.com/hwsAjauMfL

— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) November 2, 2018

The bus then veers into the opposite lane and smashes through a safety barrier. Fellow passengers can be heard screaming in terror just before the video ends, with the vehicle falling towards the water 164 feet below. Police later confirmed that the fight was the ultimate cause of the accident.

Witnesses described seeing the bus lose control and swerve into the opposite lane, smashing through safety barriers and careering off the Second Yangtze River Bridge in Chongqing's Wanzhou district.

The fight reportedly began after the passenger—identified as a 48-year-old woman with the surname Liu—missed her stop and became angry with the driver, a 43-year-old named as Ran. Demanding he stop the bus immediately, she then hit him with her cell phone.

Search and rescue teams launched an intensive operation to look for survivors, the BBC reported. China Daily reported there were more than 70 rescue boats assisting the operation, along with three floating cranes. Eighteen professional divers were drafted in to conduct salvage operations with another 20 on hand as backup. Unfortunately, no survivors have been found.

The wreckage of the bus was eventually recovered from the riverbed on Wednesday, at a depth of roughly 233 feet. Several of the victims were still inside, and divers had to remove their bodies before the vehicle was brought to the surface.

The recovery of the wreckage took so long due to the small size of the bus, depth of the water, limited visibility and shifting currents, the Ministry of Emergency Management explained.

The incident has shocked Chinese social media users, the BBC noted. The passenger has generally been blamed for the accident, though some Weibo users criticized the driver for reacting.

The families of the victims are believed to be considering legal action against the company operating the bus as well as the family of the irate passenger, China Daily reported.