32 killed in Taiwan tour bus crash, island’s worst highway accident in decades

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 February, 2017, 11:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 12:26pm

At least 32 people were killed in northern Taiwan when a tour bus overturned on a highway on Monday night, Central News Agency reported.

Fatigue due to long work hours and speeding might have caused the crash – the island’s deadliest coach accident in 30 years – that took place near Taipei, Taiwanese police said.

The Hong Kong immigration authority said in a brief statement that they received no help request from any Hong Kong resident relating to the incident.

Of the 44 people on the bus, 30 were pronounced dead at the scene and two died in hospital, according to the fire department.

Another 12 people were being treated in hospitals around Taipei, most with serious injuries.

Television footage showed the bus careening towards a road barrier before flipping on its side.

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Many of the passengers were elderly, and the trip had been arranged by the Tieh Lien Hua Travel Agency, according to city authorities and the tourism bureau.

The Taiwanese passengers had been returning from a trip to a farm in the central region of Taichung when the bus veered off the motorway in the capital Taipei.

“The passengers are all Taiwanese and mostly older people,” said Chen Chih-min from Taipei City fire department, which confirmed the crashed vehicle was a sightseeing tour bus.

It was unclear what caused the crash. Local television showed a video of the bus shot from behind flipping onto its side and skidding toward the hillside after it hit a road barrier when negotiating a highway interchange curve.

Local media said the top of the bus had been torn off and its occupants tossed onto the roadside.

Dashcam footage reported to be from a vehicle behind the bus showed it heading towards a bend in the road then disappearing off the edge of the highway.

Police are investigating whether the bus was speeding at the time, according to reports.

Ambulances and fire trucks were lined up along the bend of the road as rescue workers used a crane to lift the battered bus from its wheels, after all the passengers were pulled from the wreckage.

“Prosecutors need to get on the site,” said cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung on live TV.

The Central News Agency said it was the worst road accident for 30 years, since 1986 when a bus fell into a river in central Taiwan, killing 42 people.

The crash is the latest accident involving tour buses in Taiwan. Earlier this month, another Taiwanese tour bus carrying Chinese tourists crashed into a bridge in southern Taiwan, injuring some passengers.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Agence-France Presse