China / Society

Short-circuit blamed for catastrophic tour bus fire

By Zhang Xiaomin In Dalian And Guo Kai In Beijing (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-22 08:01

Short-circuit blamed for catastrophic tour bus fire

Safety inspectors check a tour bus in Taipei, Taiwan, on Thursday in the wake of a fire that killed 26 people, including 24 mainland tourists, on Tuesday. Zheng Rennan / For China Daily

Passengers trapped because emergency exit door was locked, investigation finds

A preliminary investigation shows that the fire that engulfed a tour bus in Taiwan was caused by electrical short-circuits near the driver's seat, prosecutors in the island's Taoyuan district said.

According to local media, an initial autopsy showed that the driver's respiratory tract was burned, a sign that he possibly inhaled high temperature smoke. The prosecutors said the driver was possibly poisoned by carbon monoxide and became unconscious, losing control of the bus.

The bus caught fire and crashed into a highway barrier en route to Taoyuan International Airport on Tuesday. All 26 on board, including the driver, a tour guide and 24 mainland tourists, were killed.

One of the major reasons for the heavy casualties was that the left-rear emergency exit failed to open. Investigators found that the exit had a lock system that should not have been there.

They also discovered a similar lock system on another bus from the same company. Prosecutors said they would further investigate the buses.

Liu Kezhi, secretary-general of the Association for Tourism Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits, said the mainland was extremely dissatisfied with Taiwan's safety measures for visiting mainland tourists.

The mainland requests that Taiwan thoroughly investigate the accident and complete the work necessary to receive victims' family members, Liu told reporters outside a temporary shrine for the victims in Taoyuan's Zhongli district. Relatives of the deceased were taken to the shrine by Taiwan officials.

In response, Mainland Affairs Council spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng said Taiwan would work hard to raise the quality of its tourism services and examine problematic parts of the sector.

A charter flight with about 40 family members arrived in Taipei on Thursday afternoon, accompanied by about 20 personnel from government institutions in Dalian, Liaoning province, where 21 of the victims were from.

"We hope related departments in Taiwan can ascertain the true facts as soon as possible and handle the compensation work well, thus comforting those who have lost their loved ones," said Luan Xusheng, head of Dalian's working group for Taiwan and director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of Dalian.

"Staff from our community and various government institutions came to help us after the accident," said a woman surnamed Yao, who lost her nephew Jiang Xin in the fire.

Yao said Jiang, 30, and his wife, Gao Ling, 28, were on their honeymoon.

"It's really hard to accept the fact. They had lived in their new home for only three days," she said.

China Post contributed to this story.


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