At least 32 killed in Taiwan tour bus crash

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Rescuers gather around a crashed bus in Taipei, Taiwan February 13, 2017. PHOTO COURTESY: (Tyrone Siu/REUTERS)

At least 32 people were killed and 13 wounded when a tour bus with local people aboard overturned on a highway (an exit ramp connecting two national freeways) in Nangang District in Taipei City on Monday night. The bus was carrying 44 local people, including a tour guide and the driver. Most of the passengers were seniors, although the age range was early 20s to late 60s, according to the National Fire Agency.

200 firefighters and Twenty ambulances were moved quickly to remove people from the accident site, but they found many people without any vital injuries. Rescue workers used a crane to lift the injured bus from its wheels, after all the passengers on board were extracted from the wreckage.

“We are making efforts to help with the emergency response and will fully cooperate,” Chou Chi-hung told Reuters by telephone.

According to the fire department, of the 44 local people on the bus, 32 were pronounced dead at the scene, including two who had been hospitalized, and the other 13 were still being treated in nearby hospitals around Taipei for serious injuries. The latest victim died Tuesday morning after suffering internal bleeding and multiple injuries, Taipei Municipal Wanfang Hospital said, bringing the toll to 33. There were no tourists from the foreign countries or Chinese mainland on the bus, local police said.

The Taiwanese passengers were returning home from a one-day trip of cherry blossoms at Wuling Farm in the central region of Taichung, reported the Chinese-language Apple Daily. The trip had been organised by a Taipei-based Butterflies Love Flowers Travel Agency (Tieh Lien Hua Travel Agency), according to Taiwan’s tourism bureau and the city authorities.

No immediate explanation of the cause of the accident was given. The bus is believed to have overturned on an exit ramp connecting Freeway 5 from Yilan County to Nangang and the southbound lanes of Freeway 3 at about 9:06 p.m. Local authorities are now investigating whether the bus was speeding or fatigued driving at the time, according to reports.

The crash was the worst road accident for 30 years, since 1986 when a bus fell into a river in central Taiwan, killing 42 people, according to Central News Agency. Earlier this month, another Taiwanese tour bus carrying Chinese tourists crashed into a railway bridge in southern Taiwan, injuring 21 Chinese passengers. It followed a grisly murder-suicide last July in which 26 tourists from mainland China, were killed after the driver set their moving bus on fire.