Taiwan bus burst into flames, killing 26, including 24 tourists from China

The bus was carrying 24 tourists on an eight-day tour organised by a travel agency in China's northeastern province of Liaoning

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Policemen and other emergency personnel work around the wreckage of a bus that crashed en route to Taoyuan airport, just south of the capital Taipei killing all 26 on board July 19, 2016. REUTERS/A-Kun Li

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A Taiwan tour bus carrying tourists from China crashed into a highway railing en route to the airport on Tuesday and burst into flames, killing all 26 on board, Taiwanese authorities said. The bus was carrying 24 tourists on an eight-day tour organised by a travel agency in China's northeastern province of Liaoning, 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.

Taiwan is a popular destination for mainland tourists, who provide a major source of tourism revenue for the island. Traffic accidents in Taiwan involving Chinese tourists are not uncommon. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and for years travel between the two sides was restricted, but tourist exchanges have deepened over the past two decades, with many Chinese visiting the democratically ruled island for the first time. The cause of the fire was unclear. Taiwan authorities were  investigating. Taiwan's cabinet spokesman, Tung Chen-yuan, said government officials dealing with tourism and China affairs had reached out to their mainland counterparts and that they would help arrange for relatives of the victims to come to Taiwan. The passengers were on their way to Taoyuan, the island's main airport just south of the capital Taipei, for their flight back to China when the accident happened.

Police work around the wreckage of a bus that crashed en route to Taoyuan airport, just south of the capital Taipei, Taiwan July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Police work around the wreckage of a bus that crashed en route to Taoyuan airport, just south of the capital Taipei, Taiwan July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A policeman films the wreckage of a bus that crashed en route to Taoyuan airport, just south of the capital Taipei July 19, 2016. REUTERS/A-Kun Li
A policeman films the wreckage of a bus that crashed en route to Taoyuan airport, just south of the capital Taipei July 19, 2016. REUTERS/A-Kun Li
An airplane flies over a bus that crashed en route to Taoyuan airport, just south of the capital Taipei, Taiwan July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
An airplane flies over a bus that crashed en route to Taoyuan airport, just south of the capital Taipei, Taiwan July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A bus carrying tourists from China which crashed into a highway railing en route to Taoyuan airport is seen, just south of the capital Taipei, Taiwan July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A bus carrying tourists from China which crashed into a highway railing en route to Taoyuan airport is seen, just south of the capital Taipei, Taiwan July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A worker looks at the wreckage of a bus carrying tourists from China which crashed into a highway railing en route to Taoyuan airport is seen, just south of the capital Taipei, Taiwan July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A worker looks at the wreckage of a bus carrying tourists from China which crashed into a highway railing en route to Taoyuan airport is seen, just south of the capital Taipei, Taiwan July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Police and other emergency personnel work around the wreckage of a bus that crashed en route to Taoyuan airport, just south of the capital Taipei July 19, 2016.  REUTERS/A-Kun Li
Police and other emergency personnel work around the wreckage of a bus that crashed en route to Taoyuan airport, just south of the capital Taipei July 19, 2016. REUTERS/A-Kun Li

(Reporting by Faith Hung and J.R. Wu; Editing by Nick Macfie)