Taiwan bus crash victims mourned

Taipei: Distraught relatives in Taiwan gathered to mourn 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.
The group of 44 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.
Television footage showed the top of the vehicle ripped off, with occupants tossed onto the roadside.
The latest victim died Tuesday morning after suffering multiple injuries and internal bleeding, Wanfang Hospital said, bringing the toll to 33.
It was the latest in a series of deadly incidents in Taiwan after a bus fire last July killed 25 Chinese holidaymakers.
Police are investigating whether the bus in the latest crash was speeding at the time, according to reports.
Dashcam footage reportedly 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 which was cleared later by cranes.
The bus driver’s daughter identified as Kang Yi-jen described her father as overworked, according to local media.
“I think he was fatigued while driving… my father worked very hard to pay our mortgage and tuition but they are trying to lay the blame on him,” she told reporters.
Some reports said the driver of the bus had been working for 14 hours straight. 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.
Passengers were asleep at the time of the crash. One survivor described it as “hell.” “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.
Relatives returned to the scene of the accident Tuesday to perform a religious ritual for the dead.  — AFP