Bus flips sideways on Taiwan highway

Initial reports mention 5 passengers gravely injured

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A bus carrying pilgrims home crashed on a freeway in Changhua County Saturday.

A bus carrying pilgrims home crashed on a freeway in Changhua County Saturday. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - A bus carrying pilgrims home flipped sideways on the No.3 Freeway in Changhua County Saturday, leaving 33 people injured with five sustaining serious injuries.

The bus was carrying 32 passengers home to Kaohsiung from a religious event in Miaoli County, the Central News Agency reported.

The driver of a car behind the bus said he told rescue workers that the vehicle had suddenly lost control, hit the median and flipped over across two lanes on the freeway near the town of Hemei just before 4:45 p.m. Saturday.

Some of the injured managed to leave the bus of their own accord, but all passengers and the bus driver were still ferried to hospitals in the region. Emergency services said they had mobilized 19 ambulances, 14 fire trucks and 79 rescue workers to address the situation.

An investigation on the cause of the accident is still pending, but initial reports said the bus dated from 2006 and no irregularities had ever been found, CNA reported. The Apple Daily later reported the driver saying that a black car suddenly veered in front of him and that he had tried to avoid hitting it.

Over the years, several fatal accidents including fires (some involving tourists from China) led to a tightening of safety rules for buses.