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April 23, 2012

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14 die as Shanghai tour bus collides with truck

At least 14 people died and 20 were injured when a Shanghai tour bus collided head-on with a truck on an expressway in neighboring Jiangsu Province yesterday morning.

The bus, with 33 people onboard including a guide and the driver, was on its way to Changshu City for a peony flower show when it suddenly crashed through the guardrail onto the opposite lane of the Yanjiang Expressway at around 9:30am and collided with the truck, Jiangsu traffic police said.

Six passengers and the truck driver were killed instantly while six other passengers died in hospital. Four of the injured were still in critical condition last night.

According to an initial police investigation, a burst tire may have caused the bus to lose control. Witnesses said both vehicles overturned after the collision and several bodies could be seen lying on the road.

An officer with the Yanjiang Expressway Traffic Police said they had cleared the road and resumed normal operation of the expressway by 3pm.

The cause of the accident was still under investigation.

When a crane lifted the wreckage from the road it could be seen that the upper part of the Foton bus was completely crushed and its right front wheel was missing. The front of the truck, which had a Suzhou plate, was flattened by the impact.

"At least 10 passengers were thrown out of the bus windows during the collision," said a farmer who was working alongside the road when the accident happened. He said he heard a loud bang. Police and ambulances arrived about 30 minutes later.

One of the passengers said that, although the bus was fitted with seat belts, none of the passengers was wearing one at the time of the accident. The injured were taken by ambulance to three nearby hospitals.

The bus driver was among the injured but it was not known if the guide had survived.

"Most of the injured were in a serious condition when they arrived at the hospital, and many suffered bone fractures and head injuries," said a doctor with the Changshu Xinqu District Hospital which received 12 of the injured.

"Most passengers were in their 50s and those who sat at the front of the bus were trapped when the collision happened. Other passengers climbed out of the windows," said a female passenger surnamed Pan who suffered leg and rib fractures.

All the passengers were tourists from Shanghai who had booked the tour online, said Lan Xiaoliu, of the Shanghai Xiangda Travel Agency which organized the one-day tour.

The travel agency, which has been in business for 10 years, rented the bus and driver from a qualified renting company for the 188 yuan (US$29.8) tour, Lan said.

The bus and driver were from the Shanghai Yiliu Vehicle Renting Service Company, a taxi and bus renting company in suburban Nanhui District, the Shanghai Tourism Administration said.

Buses take visitors to the peony show in Changshu's Shanghu Park every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from People's Square at 8am.

Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng has asked the Jiangsu government to spare no effort to care for the injured and find out the cause of the accident as soon as possible.

A team made up of Shanghai police and traffic and tourism authorities has arrived in Changshu to investigate the accident.


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