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Bus with Chinese tourists catches fire in Taiwan, killing 26

TAIPEI, Taiwan » A tour bus carrying visitors from China burst into flames on a busy highway near Taiwan’s capital on Tuesday, killing all 26 people on board, officials said.

The accident took place on the No. 2 national highway in Taoyuan county, south of Taipei, where the island’s international airport is located, the county’s fire and rescue service said in a statement.

It said 24 of those on board were visitors from China’s Liaoning province who had been scheduled to fly home on Tuesday afternoon. The others killed were the driver and a tour guide, both Taiwanese.

The website of Taiwan’s China Times newspaper said that no one aboard made it off the burning bus, and that many of the bodies had been badly charred.

There was no official word on the cause of the fire, although Taiwan’s official Central News Agency and others reported that the bus apparently burst into flame after spinning out of control and smashing into the highway’s guard rail. However, the exact sequence of events wasn’t immediately clear.

Photos from the scene showed flames and thick black smoke pouring from the cab of the bus shortly after the crash.

Thirteen firefighting vehicles and 30 firefighters were sent to the scene, but the fire apparently spread too rapidly, and once the flames were extinguished, the vehicle was heavily blackened from one end to the other.

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