Worst Road Accident in 30 Years: 33 Dead, 11 Injured

[Picture: United Daily News]

Firefighters worked through the night to extricate dead and injured passengers after a tour coach overturned on a highway near Taipei at around 9:00pm February 13.

The accident marks the worst road accident in Taiwan in 30 years with 33 Dead and 11 injured.

The tour group had spent the day visiting Wuling Farm in Ilan County to view cherry blossoms. The bus overturned while negotiating a bend at the Mucha Interchange on Highway 5.

Preliminary investigations including video evidence point to excessive speed as a factor. Most of the passengers were not wearing seat belts.

Tachometer readings show the bus was traveling at 60kph on a bend with a speed limit of 40kph.

The tour bus was owned by the Dielianhua tour company (Iris Travel Service), which is known for budget tours. Tour members had paid just NT$850 for a full day tour. Some media outlets are reporting that the company’s buses are older than average, with some buses being over 30 years old.

A lawyer for the company said that managers would meet with the Taipei Association of Travel Agents before issuing a press release this afternoon.

Travel industry spokesperson Li Qiyue earlier today denied that driver fatigue was a contributing factor in the accident. He claimed that the driver, surnamed Kang had a rest day two days before the accident. However, Liberty Times Network reports that the driver’s daughter refutes this claim, and stated that her father had not had a rest day since Chinese New Year’s eve, and that he had worked 16 days straight.

In 2016, 26 Chinese tourists were incinerated when a suicidal driver set fire to a bus as he was driving to Taipei Taoyuan International Airport. In 1986, 42 died when a bus plunged into a river in central Taiwan.

Tzu Chi volunteers pray for the victims of a tragic bus accident near Taipei February 13, 2017
Volunteers from Buddhist Tzu Chi foundation chant and pray for victims of a tragic tour bus accident. The volunteers also provided hot ginger tea to weary rescue workers. Picture: United Daily News.
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