Seven Chinese people died after they were struck by a van while they were walking by the side of emergency lane of an expressway, mainland media reports.

The fatal accident happened

at about 10am on Monday when the group of pedestrians, who lived in a nearby village, were hit by the small van after it swerved into the Hangrui Expressway’s emergency lane while being overtaken by another vehicle, near Fenghuang county in Hunan province, the Beijing Morning Post reported on Thursday.

The report said the accident had been caused by the van driver’s “improper operation”.

No further details about the tragedy were given.

Following the accident, local authorities reminded people that it was not only illegal, but also dangerous to walk on expressways.

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