Water sprinkled by a street cleaning crew froze in the cold, contributing to 42 traffic accidents in downtown Fuyang city in East China's Anhui province recently.
"It was rather dry recently in the city and dust was easily forming and spreading. We meant to clean the streets by sprinkling water, but forgot to check the temperature information," said Rui Wenhua, vice head of the city's environmental sanitation administration.
The authorities apologised to motorists through the government supervision channels, but some of the affected drivers complained that the apology was insufficient and they wanted compensation.
The accidents all happened between 6 am and 8:30 am on Thursday morning, traffic police said. One driver told police his car slid into the green belt beside the road near the Qinghe Primary School and when got out of the car to check, he fell to the ground.
"The road was so slippery that the brakes didn't work," the driver told police.
Weather reports indicate that the morning temperature was as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius.
On one section of the 2-kilometer road, 11 accidents were reported. Another six occurred within a few hundred meters on a nearby street. One electric motorbike driver was reported to have been slightly injured.
A city guideline standardizes street-sprinkling operations. It recommends that water sprinkling should stop when temperatures drop below zero.