Taiwanese authorities were last night still searching for clues to what caused yesterday’s bus tragedy that killed 26 people, including 24 mainland tourists, and why no one survived on a vehicle with multiple escape exits. It was the deadliest bus fire on the island in 24 years. The incident could deal a further blow to Taiwan, whose relations with the mainland have already been strained by the reluctance of the island’s new President Tsai Ing-wen to accept the “1992 consensus”, which Beijing insisted on as a foundation for continued cross-strait exchanges and talks, analysts said. The front section of the bus, carrying tourists from Liaoning province, was ablaze before it rammed into a crash barrier on the island’s No 2 highway, just minutes away from Taoyuan International Airport, police said. “None of the passengers survived the accident, which also killed the driver and the tour guide from Taiwan,” Lu Jui-yao, a highway police chief, said. “Nine bodies were found close together in the rear part of the bus, indicating they might have tried to escape via the emergency exit.” The victims included two girls and a boy aged about 13, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau said. The tourists were returning home after an eight-day tour to scenic spots, including Sun Moon Lake and Alishan in central Taiwan. At least 35 killed in bus crash in central China Local media said the tour group had earlier made a shopping stop at a duty-free outlet. Firefighters said the blaze, which had started in the front of the bus, took about 30 minutes to extinguish. Thirteen fire engines and 30 firefighters were deployed to battle the blaze, a fire department spokesman said. A local tour bus company official said the bus that caught fire had eight emergency exits and he had no idea why none of those on board survived. Another tour bus driver said the right way to break the bus window was to hit at the corners instead of the centre. When passengers panicked or inhaled too much smoke, they may not have been able to make the right moves to escape, he said. A truck driver who tried in vain to help people on the burning bus told the SET cable television channel: “I heard some people shouting for help, but I had no idea how many were in the bus.” He said that when he saw the bus was on fire he stopped his truck and tried unsuccessfully to help rescue those inside. Taiwan’s Cabinet spokesman Tung Chen-yuan said both the Mainland Affairs Council and the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation, which also deals with the mainland, had informed officials in Beijing. “Authorities here will do all they can to assist the families of the victims,” Tung said during a press conference in Taipei. In Beijing, the Taiwan Affairs Office said it would send a special team to the island to help deal with the tragedy. But analysts said they did not think the tragedy would provide an opportunity for the two sides to mend fences.