China / HK Macao Taiwan

26 die after tour bus catches fire on highway in Taiwan

By Luo Wangshu in Beijing and Wu Yong in Shenyang ( Updated: 2016-07-19 14:34
26 die after tour bus catches fire on highway in Taiwan

A tourist coach bursts into flames on the highway to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on July 19, 2016. [Photo/IC] More photos

Twenty six people have died after a fire broke out in a tourist bus along the highway en route to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, CCTV reports.

This is the worst bus fire in Taiwan in 24 years.

The report said the bus swerved into a roadside barrier on a highway for "unknown reasons" and then bursted into a fireball at 12:57 pm. The fire was put out half an hour later.

Taipei local media said t he passengers were on their way to Taoyuan, the island's main airport just south of Taipei, for their flight back to Chinese mainland when the accident happened.

The victims include 10 males and 16 females, among whom three are under the age of 20. The youngest victim was only 12 years old, and the oldest was 73, according to Xinhua.

The preliminary investigation has shown that most bodies were found at the rear of the coach, which could possibly mean the passengers tried but failed to break open the windows.

A firefighter from a local unit said the failure to open doors was the major reason behind the high number of casualties. He said the driver might have died before he could open the two bus doors.

Taoyuan City Police has confirmed the number of victims as 26, and said all the 26 bodies will be transported to a funeral home for post mortem.

The State Council Taiwan Affairs Office urged Taiwan to investigate into the accident, and handle the aftermath properly. It said a team will be sent to Taiwan to help take care of the aftermath.

The National Tourism Administration said it will keep in close contact with Taiwan and it urged Taiwan to help families of the victims and handle insurance claims properly.

Xu Xiaolei, spokesman for China Youth Travel Service, said the bus fire is an isolated case, which does not indicate that Taiwan's ability to receive tourists has changed radically. He said the travel services in Taiwan perform well in general.

The Tourism Bureau of Liaoning province told China Daily that it has just been notified about the accident and does not have all the details.

Liaoning Overseas International Travel Service Co Ltd which organized the tour is in touch with relevant departments on helping families of victims deal with the aftermath and will answer questions when it's appropriate, a company's employee told media.

26 die after tour bus catches fire on highway in Taiwan

One member of the investigation team conducts investigation on spot after a tourist bus crashed and burned in Taoyuan, Taiwan, 19 July 2016.[Photo/IC]

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