China / HK Macao Taiwan

Tour bus inferno: Relatives demand answers

(Agencies) Updated: 2016-07-23 07:23

Tour bus inferno: Relatives demand answers

Family members of victims from the mainland who died in the bus accident that killed 26 people cry as they attend a funeral in Taoyuan, Taiwan, on Thursday. A preliminary investigation found that an electrical problem near the driver’s seat caused the fire. [Photo/Agencies]

Grieving relatives of 24 mainland tourists who died in a bus inferno in Taiwan are demanding answers from authorities.

It was the worst road crash ever involving visitors from the Chinese mainland. Two Taiwan residents, the driver and a tour guide, also died.

The first group of 46 relatives arrived in Taiwan on Thursday to identify the bodies of their loved ones. Many broke down in tears as they visited a funeral home where the bodies of victims are being kept.

Emotions ran high at a briefing hosted by Taiwan officials, with distraught relatives demanding to know the cause of the blaze and questioning why no one was able to escape when fire ripped through the bus.

"The relatives demanded the truth and asked about the rescue process," said Tang Wen-chi, a Taiwan Tourism Bureau official who attended the late-night meeting on Thursday. Tang said some relatives wanted mainland experts to take part in the investigation.

"Why is there no truth after so many days? Why can't we find anyone to take responsibility?" unnamed relatives were quoted as saying in Taiwan's United Daily News.

The report said some relatives questioned whether the low cost of the tour was tied to increased safety risks, as drivers for such tours reportedly often work overtime, leading to fatigue.

The price for an eight-day island tour tailor-made for mainland groups, typically costs less than NT$20,000 ($625).

The bus was a few kilometers from Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport, where passengers planned to catch a flight home on Tuesday, when it was engulfed in flames and smashed through an expressway barrier, killing all 26 on board, including the local driver and guide.

Investigators are probing the cause of the accident. They say the fire started at the front of the bus, near the driver's seat.

Questions are still swirling over why no one was able to escape via the emergency exits.

A preliminary investigation found evidence suggesting the fire began near the driver's seat. The driver had no criminal history related to driving, a local prosecutor was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying on Friday.

Results of alcohol and drug tests are still pending.

China Daily contributed to this story.


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