Tourist bus with 40 aboard plunges into Tibetan valley

Coach loaded with domestic tourists plunges down slope after collision

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 5:53am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 10:52am

A bus carrying about 40 tourists plunged into a valley in Tibet yesterday after hitting two other vehicles on a highway just outside the regional capital, Lhasa.

Casualties were reported, but authorities had yet to disclose the number.

The tour bus was travelling along National Highway 318 in Nyemo county when it crashed into a sports utility vehicle and small truck at 4.25pm before falling into the valley, Xinhua reported. The accident occurred 20km outside of the capital.

Most of the tourists were from Shanghai or Xuzhou in Jiangsu province, according to a staff member from the Lhasa-based Feixiang Travel Agency, the owner of the tour bus. He said all the injured passengers were sent to hospitals in the capital.

"The number of fatalities and casualties from the accident is unclear so far. But we are sure that there are survivors," he told the Sunday Morning Post.

Xinhua reported bodies and injured passengers were carried from the bus.

"Since there are not many good hospitals in Nyemo county, we decided to send the injured passengers to the capital. Our company will dedicate all efforts to dealing with the aftermath of the accident," the staff member said. "All of our managers and project leaders involved in this matter are rushing to the scene as we speak."

Tibet is a popular destination for both domestic and foreign tourists, and authorities have been pushing to develop tourism in the area.

In the January to April period, the region saw more than 830,000 tourists, an increase of more than 23 per cent from last year, the regional tourism bureau has reported.

However, mountain roads in Tibet can be extremely dangerous, particularly in wet weather, when roads are slippery and visibility is poor.

The staff said weather conditions in the area were normal. This is the first such accident known to have occurred with the travel agency.

Calls to the local traffic police went unanswered.