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Crash survivors may take bus owners to court

Survivors of a fatal bus crash in the United States may take legal action against the bus owners after suggestions the accident could have been caused by the driver's carelessness.

Wu Shougui, one of the nine injured Chinese tourists, said he had talked to a lawyer in the US about pursuing legal action against D.W. Tours & Charters.

"As for the tour agencies, we will discuss with other survivors and victims' families to decide whether to launch a lawsuit against the tour organizers," he said.

Wu, his wife Bao Ruihua and son Wu Shuang, were all slightly injured in the crash. They arrived back in Shanghai last Thursday.

No seat belts

The bus, carrying a group of 15 Chinese tourists, overturned on a highway in Arizona at around 4pm on January 30. It was returning to Las Vegas after a trip to the Grand Canyon.

The US National Transportation Safety Board's lead investigator, Peter Kotowski, said 15 of the 17 people on board were thrown out during the crash because there were no seat belts for passengers, reported The Associated Press.

Kotowski said the driver, Han Dongdong, had tried to fix a door and was blinded by the sun just before the bus crashed near the Hoover Dam, killing six passengers and a tour guide.

Witnesses told investigators the driver's side door was open at one point just before the mishap.

Kotowski said the 48-year-old driver also "indicated he was blinded by sun's glare" just before he lost control of the bus. The driver is still in hospital.

Investigators found nothing wrong with the driver's side door or any other mechanical problems, Kotowski said.

He said Han was properly licensed to drive the 29-passenger bus and had been working for D.W. Tour & Charter of San Gabriel, California, for about six months. Arizona law enforcement officials will review the investigation's findings before determining whether Han will face charges, he said.

The Shanghai Donghu International Travel Service, the tour organizers, said they weren't aware of the progress in the investigation.

"We are now only focusing on comforting the victims' families," said Zhang Ping, an official with the company.

Galaxy Tour Inc, the receiving agency of the 20-member tour group, was not available for comment yesterday.

Family members of the tourists who died have reached an agreement with the International SOS, a medical assistance organization, to have the bodies flown home this week. They have also signed a contract with a US law firm to deal with compensation and other affairs, the Shanghai Tourism Administration said.

Five of the nine Chinese tourists injured in the crash are still in hospital.

Three relatives of one of the tourists who died arrived at Pudong International Airport last night. They were relatives of Ge Xiazhen from Zhejiang Province. Ge had gone to the US with her daughter, Xie Tianyi, who wanted to study there.

Xie broke her right leg in the accident and is still receiving treatment in the US.


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