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Tourists killed in Japan ski bus crash

Fourteen people have been killed and dozens injured when a bus to a ski resort ran off a mountain road in central Japan. Fully loaded bus had 41 people aboard.

An overnight bus on its way to a ski resort careened off a mountain road near the resort town of Karuizawa early Friday, killing 14 passengers and injuring 27 others, about half critically.

The chartered bus was carrying 41 people, including two drivers and 39 passengers, when it crashed at the Usui mountain pass heading to the Kita Shiga ski area.

Television footage showed the bus overturned in a wooded area with its front window shattered after it broke through a barrier.

Both drivers were killed in the crash.

Japan Busunglück in Karuizawa

A tour bus (R) that veered off a road is lifted by a crane after it crashed in Karuizawa, Nagano prefecture, Japan.

Authorities puzzled over cause of crash

Authorities said there was no snow or ice on the road surface in the area, about 180 kilometers (110 miles) northwest of Tokyo.

Most passengers were ski enthusiasts aged between 18 into their early 20s, according to the Tokyo-based ski tour operator Keyth Tour.

Ski tours are often packaged with overnight road transportation, lodging and lift tickets for around 12,000 yen ($100) and are very popular among college students.

jar/rc (AP, AFP)