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Published: Monday, 7/4/2011

Bus crash in southern China kills 23, injures 29


BEIJING  — A speeding truck rear-ended a tourist bus stopped in a highway emergency lane, and the bus flipped and burst into flames, killing at least 23 people and injuring 29 in south China early Monday, state media said.

Police lowered earlier death and injured tolls, explaining that the carnage and fire damage made counting difficult, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The coach was illegally stopped in the emergency lane of the Suizhou-Yueyang expressway in Hubei province when it was rammed at 3:50 a.m., Xinhua said. The report said investigators believe that the truck driver, who was killed, was tired and driving at high speed when the vehicles crashed.

The long-distance coach, operated by Wuhan Hailong Tourism Bus Company, was carrying 52 passengers, including five children, and was headed to Tianmen, a scenic area in Guangdong province, Xinhua said. The reports did not indicate any foreigners were on board.

China Central Television broadcast footage of the accident site, showing where the two vehicles tore up a stretch of guard railing before plunging down an embankment into a farm field. A mass of charred and mangled metal was surrounded by hundreds of large blackened wax gourds that had been piled on the cargo truck.

Serious traffic accidents are common in China due to lax driving habits, overloaded vehicles and bad road conditions.

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