Two tourists from Taiwan and a mainland driver were killed and 18 tourists injured in a bus accident in Northeast China's Jilin Province.
It was the second fatal accident in the area in two months.
The latest tragedy happened on Monday morning when a bus, with 20 Taiwanese tourists on board, veered off a highway in Wangqing County and fell into a river. The vehicle was on route from Heilongjiang to Changbai Mountain for sightseeing.
The two victims from Taiwan were both female Lee Lin Ching-miao, 66, and Leu Hsiu-ching, 62.
The male driver Li Yong, 49, was from neighbouring Heilongjiang Province, according to local traffic police.
Passengers Yan Wenxiong and Gao Guohe, who suffered serious injuries, have undergone operations and were last night still in a critical condition, according to Wei Jiuping, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Korean Autonomous Prefecture of Yanbian.
All the injured were transferred to Yanbian Hospital for further treatment yesterday morning, he added.
A primary investigation by police showed it rained in most parts of Jilin Province at the weekend, making some roads slippery. The bus is thought to have skidded as it went round a bend. The exact cause of the accident is not yet known. Compensation details were being hammered out.
Local officials, medical staff and police all rushed to the scene. The injured were taken to the People's Hospital of Wangqing County.
On July 13, a bus carrying 11 Taiwanese tourists, one driver and a tourist guide was involved in an accident, killing a 70-year-old woman from Taiwan and injuring other passengers. That accident also happened on the way to the Changbai Mountain tourism area.
Both Wang Yunkun, Party secretary of Jilin Province, and Wang Min, governor of the province, urged the local government to spare no efforts to treat the injured in the latest accident.
Officials said the local government has informed all the families of the Taiwanese tourists. Relatives of the two dead were expected to arrive in Yanbian last night.
The tourists were on a 10-day tour of the three northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning. Jilin was their second stop.
(China Daily September 13, 2006)