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26 dead in Taiwan tourist bus fire

Twenty-six people are believed killed after a bus carrying tourists caught fire and burst into flames after an accident on a highway in Taiwan, China. The accident happened near Taoyuan City as the bus was heading to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

The passengers are believed to be from mainland China, according to Taiwan News, while the accident took place at around 1pm local time. The bus was traveling on the main highway which links the city with the airport.  

Television footage showed that a red-and-white bus was lying on its side, with the front right side stuck in the railings in the central reservation. Plumes of black smoke could be seen rising into the sky, while large flames were coming from the wreckage.

A total of 26 people are believed to have died in the accident, while it has been reported that the group of tourists, who were from the Chinese province of Liaoning in the northeast, were heading to the airport to return home.

The tourist group consisted of 23 travelers and two guides, Taiwan News reports.

A preliminary report by the local authorities says the fire started near the front of the bus. The driver, who also died in the accident, lost control of the vehicle and it slammed into the railings. Passengers were unable to escape because the doors were wedged against the barrier, which prevented the emergency doors from opening.

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is around 40km west of the capital, Taipei, and is the biggest passenger transportation hub on the island.