Eight children were among 11 people killed when a kindergarten minivan plunged into a reservoir in central China, state media reported today.

The vehicle was taking the children home in a hilly area near Changsha city in Hunan province when the accident happened yesterday, the China News Service said.

The bodies of the victims, who also included two teachers and the driver, were recovered early this, the report said, citing a witness surnamed Zhou.

Pictures showed the yellow minivan being lifted out of the water by a crane, with its front windshield smashed into pieces.

The incident is the latest in a string of fatal school bus accidents in China over recent years that have sparked nationwide outrage over slack safety enforcement.

In November 2011, 20 children from a private kindergarten and two adults were killed and another 42 children injured when their nine-seat school bus, which had been illegally converted to hold 64 people, crashed head-on with a coal truck in Gansu province.

The head of the institution was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2012.

A senior traffic police officer was sentenced to three years in prison, with another given a suspended term of the same length, for dereliction of duty and failing to rectify problems including the kindergarten's conversion of the vehicle, according to a court announcement on Wednesday.