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Bus driver not a casualty in tunnel accident (update 2)

2012/05/07 23:17:46

Taipei, May 7 (CNA) The National Freeway Bureau said the two people who died in a car accident in Hsuehshan Tunnel in northeastern Taiwan Monday were both in an automobile, correcting information issued by another agency saying that one of the fatalities was a passenger bus driver.

According to a video from a surveillance camera in the tunnel, the accident occurred after a tire on a truck blew out at the 26-kilometer mark on one of the two southbound lanes on the No. 5 National Freeway, which links New Taipei City and Yilan County.

The site of the accident was roughly 2 km away from the exit of the 12.9-km tunnel on the Yilan side.

The video from inside the tunnel showed that when the truck driver slammed on the brakes in response to the flat tire while driving in the slow lane, two cars trailing behind immediately moved to the fast line to avoid hitting the truck.

A passenger bus run by the Kamalan Bus Inc., which was behind the two cars, tried to follow suit.

At the same time, a car behind the Kamalan bus was hit from behind by another passenger bus, operated by Capital Bus. It was unclear if the car rammed into the Kamalan bus.

The sedan and the Capital Bus vehicle both caught fire during the collision, the bureau said, burning the two people in the car to death.

The bureau was unable to determine whether there had been a safe distance between the two vehicles when the collision occurred because surveillance cameras did not pick them up before the accident.

Bureau Director-General Tseng Dar-jen said he had planned to release the video clip to the media but could not because it had already been confiscated by prosecutors.

Tseng said that prosecutors and police will launch an investigation into the accident, the worst ever in the tunnel, which was opened to the public in June 2006.

According to the bureau, apart from the two deaths, seven people were seriously injured in the accident and 15 others suffered minor injuries.

(By Wang Shu-fen and Elizabeth Hsu)