A bus containing mostly German nationals yesterday crashed into the back of a container truck and burst into flames on a road connecting Beijing to Tianjin, killing six people and injuring 14.
The accident happened as travellers packed the roads during the week-long National Day holiday.
According to Xinhua, five Germans and a Chinese driver were killed, and two Chinese were among the injured in the accident, which happened at about 8.30am. The injured were sent to hospitals in Tianjin.
However, a spokeswoman for the German embassy in Beijing gave different figures to the South China Morning Post last night, confirming the deaths of four German citizens, adding that 19 Germans were on the bus.
Witnesses uploaded pictures online showing the bus engulfed in flames, with heavy black smoke billowing from the wreckage. A Xinhua picture showed the bus burnt down to its frame.
One witness who passed by on a nearby road from Beijing to Shanghai wrote that two people were lying by the bus.
Another person saw police putting personal belongings into bags and placing them alongside the road.
Xinhua quoted police as saying the tour group was organised by the Beijing branch of the China Youth Travel Service, but a marketing executive with the company denied that it was their tour or bus.
The bus was registered in Beijing and the truck in Henan province.
The German tourists, from the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, had arrived in Beijing yesterday morning and were on their way from the airport to Tianjin, the online version of People's Daily reported, adding that they were also planning to visit Shanghai.
Tan Ming , chief of surgery at the People's Hospital of Wuqing district, Tianjin, where the injured were sent, was quoted by the website as saying that the victims suffered burns, broken bones and other injuries.
Three were seriously injured. One with serious burns was in intensive care, and two others with broken bones were transferred to the Tianjin First Central Hospital.
The remaining 11 injured were in stable condition.
Tan said the hospitals had assigned one doctor for each patient, and the district government arranged translators.