Distraught relatives mourn victims of Taiwan bus crash

by Edisi Viral


HOME Posted on 14 Feb 2017 07:00:25


Relatives (C) mourn the victims of a bus crash in Taiwan that killed 33 local tourists. - AFP Photo

Relatives (C) mourn the victims of a bus crash in Taiwan that killed 33 local tourists. – AFP Photo

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TAIPEI: Distraught relatives in Taiwan gathered to mourn their loved ones on Tuesday after a bus carrying elderly local tourists flipped on its side and left 33 dead in one of the island’s worst ever road accidents.

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The group of 44 people had been returning from a trip to see seasonal cherry blossoms at a farm in central Taichung region when their bus veered off a highway on Monday night on the outskirts of Taipei.

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Television footage showed the top of the bus ripped off, with occupants tossed onto the roadside.

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The latest victim died Tuesday morning after suffering multiple injuries and internal bleeding, Wanfang Hospital said, bringing the toll to 33.

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The accident came after a bus fire last July killed 25 Chinese holidaymakers and is the latest in a series of deadly incidents that have tarnished Taiwan’s safety record.

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

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Dashcam footage reported to be from a vehicle behind the bus shows it turning off the main highway onto an adjoining road. It then flipped over, leaving behind a mangled pile of metal, cleared later by cranes.

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Passengers were asleep at the time of the crash and one survivor said it was “hell.”

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“The bus was lopsided when it was passing the turn and people were waking up and screaming,” 54-year-old Hsiao Shiu-hua told the China Times.

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Relatives returned to the scene of the accident Tuesday to perform a religious ritual to appease the dead. They threw banknotes towards the slope where the bus crashed and chanted prayers.

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Family members, some in tears, also gathered at a Taipei funeral parlour where some of the bodies are being held, with one of the relatives saying the tour agency that organised the trip should “take responsibility” for the disaster.

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Some reports said the driver of the bus had been working for 14 hours straight.

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But Ringo Lee of the Travel Agent Association of Taiwan said the driver had had “sufficient rest” before taking the group to the popular scenic area of Wuling.

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The driver had two outstanding traffic violations, including one for not wearing a seatbelt, but no drunk-driving record, according to the transport ministry.

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Lee added that the 19-year-old bus was a “high-class vehicle” and the ministry said it was due for a check in April.

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An investigation into last year’s fatal bus inferno outside Taipei found the driver had intentionally set fire to it in a suicide bid before it veered into a crash barrier.

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Earlier this month, 21 Chinese tourists suffered injuries after their bus rammed into a railway bridge in southern Taiwan. – AFP

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