22 injured in Chinese tourist bus accident in southern Taiwan

Taipei-- Twenty-two people, mostly Chinese tourists, were injured Saturday when their tour bus hit an overpass in Taiwan's southern port city of Kaohsiung, the Tourism Bureau said, adding that none of the injuries were life-threatening.

The accident occurred when the bus, which carried 28 people -- including the driver, a tour guide and 26 visitors from southeastern China's Zhejiang Province on a six-day trip that began on Feb. 1 -- was going through a railway underpass with not enough clearing, the bureau said.

The local fire department said seven of the injured were children, all of whom sustained minor injuries.

Initial investigations showed that the driver's unfamiliarity with local streets and lack of alertness may have been the cause of the accident.

The driver, a Kaohsiung resident who has three years of driving experience, said he was not aware of the underpass had a height limit of 2.8 meters, less than the height of the bus, because he had never traveled on that road before and was distracted by discussions with the tour guide when the accident took place, according to the police.

After it hit the underside of the overpass, the bus became stuck with part of its top smashed in.

The driver said he was neither drunk-driving nor fatigued.

The accident came a few months after one of Taiwan's most serious tour bus accidents involving Chinese visitors, when a bus carrying 24 members of a Chinese tour group and a Taiwanese tour guide en route to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport crashed into a freeway guardrail and burst into flames.

Everyone on board, including the driver, was killed in the July 19 incident as the emergency doors could not be opened.

Prosecutors charged with the investigation concluded that Su Ming-cheng, the bus driver who had immigrated from China, deliberately set fire to the vehicle because he was upset over family pressure and being sentenced to prison in a sexual assault case.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel