An airport shuttle bus in Taiwan taking mainland Chinese tourists to the airport for their flight home crashed and caught fire. All 26 aboard have perished despite efforts to escape the flaming wreck.
The bus carrying 24 tourists on an eight-day tour organized by a travel agency in China's northeastern province of Liaoning crashed into a highway barrier at 1 p.m. Tuesday and burst into flames, authorities said in a statement.
The driver and the tour guide, both from Taiwan, were also killed.
"The fire moved very fast. All 26 died," Lu Jui-yao, an official with the National Highway Police Bureau, told reporters.
The cause of the fiery crash was unclear. Taiwan authorities were investigating.
Taiwan is a popular destination for tourists from mainland China despite tension between the two countries - China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and for years restricted travel.
But tourist exchanges have deepened over the past two decades, with many Chinese visiting the democratically-ruled island for the first time.
An image in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper showed two men vainly trying to smash the bus windows with fire extinguishers as the doors and windows remained sealed shut.
A firefighter at the scene said there were no survivors left alive when rescuers arrived.
jar/kms (AFP, Reuters)