32 Chinese nationals killed in major North Korean bus accident
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32 Chinese nationals killed in major North Korean bus accident

China was informed that the accident occurred Sunday night, and its embassy personnel in Pyongyang rushed to the scene and are working to manage the situation.

world Updated: Apr 23, 2018 14:37 IST
Reuters, Beijing
Chinese tourists North Korea,North Korea bus accident,North Korea
A general view of the south fence of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Tens of thousands of Chinese tourists are believed to visit North Korea every year, with many crossing via train through the Chinese border city of Dandong.(AFP File/Representative image)

Thirty-two Chinese tourists and four North Koreans died in a major bus accident in North Korea, China’s foreign ministry said on Monday, with two Chinese nationals seriously injured and left in critical condition.

Chinese tourists make up about 80% of all foreign visitors to North Korea, says a South Korean think-tank, the Korea Maritime Institute, which estimates that tourism generates revenue of about $44 million each year for the isolated country.

Chinese diplomats have rushed to the scene of Sunday’s accident in North Hwanghae province, the foreign ministry said.

In a Twitter message on Monday, Chinese state television’s English-language channel said a tour bus had fallen off a bridge, killing more than 30 people, but later deleted the message.

State television’s main Chinese-language news channel showed images of a crashed blue bus with its wheels in the air, in footage taken in pouring rain in the dark.

It showed at least one person being treated in hospital, but gave no details of casualties.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters he could not give additional details of the accident, such as what happened and the total number of people on the bus, as an investigation was underway.

In a separate statement, China’s health ministry said it was sending a team of medical experts, along with equipment and drugs, to North Korea, to help treat survivors.

The North Hwanghae province that borders South Korea is home to Kaesong, an ancient Korean capital thronged by tourists.

North Korea is a popular, if offbeat, tourist destination for Chinese, especially those from the country’s northeast.

China said more than 237,000 Chinese visited in 2012, but stopped publishing the figures in 2013.

China is North Korea’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, despite Beijing’s anger at Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear and missile tests and support for strong United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

North and South Korea are in the final stages of preparations for a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Friday.

First Published: Apr 23, 2018 11:02 IST