A car rammed into a group of schoolchildren crossing a street in front of an elementary school in northeast China on Thursday, killing five people and injuring another 18, state media said.

Police took the driver into custody and are investigating the cause of the incident in Huludao, Liaoning province, the official CCTV broadcaster said on its Weibo social media account.

Unverified videos circulating social media show a car veering onto the wrong side of the road and ploughing through the line of pupils, the impact from the crash throwing bodies across the road.

Other gut-wrenching footage showed at least two small children lying unconscious and bleeding on the street.

Victims of the crash are undergoing medical treatment, according to CCTV. The incident happened around noon.

Grisly car accidents are common in China, where transportation authorities have struggled to enforce safety regulations.

Earlier this month, at least 13 people died when a bus plunged off a bridge in Chongqing province, after the driver got in a fight with a passenger.

In September, 11 people died when a car struck a crowd in a public square in the central Hunan province city of Hengdong.

Police detained that driver, a man in his 40s, and described him as a “vengeful repeat offender”.

In February, a van packed with pressurised gas tanks and bottles full of petrol caught fire and ploughed into pedestrians in Shanghai, leaving at least 18 people injured.

Authorities concluded that it had been a “traffic accident”.

A 2013 incident was blamed on militant separatists.

Two tourists were killed at the time when a car rammed into bystanders in Beijing’s iconic Tiananmen Square before bursting into flames.

Three attackers also died in the incident, which Beijing blamed on separatists from the restive western region of Xinjiang.

Get more stories like this on Twitter & Facebook

AD: To get thousands of free final year project topics and other project materials sorted by subject to help with your research [click here]