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Tour bus flips over on Taiwan highway, killing 32

Rescue teams swarme over the scene of a bus accident in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday.
Rescue teams swarme over the scene of a bus accident in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday.Associated Press

TAIPEI — A bus carrying Taiwanese tourists on a trip to view cherry blossoms flipped over on an expressway ramp in Taiwan’s capital on Monday, killing 32 people and injuring many others, officials said.

The bus was carrying 44 people when it crashed on the No. 5 expressway, the Taipei fire officials said. They said authorities were still trying to determine the cause of the accident.

‘‘It happened on a curve, so the bus flipped and that could be due to excess speed,’’ said Tu Bing-cheng, a Taipei city official. He said the frame of the bus was crushed.

Many passengers were trapped under the bus, and rescue personnel used a crane to pry the vehicle open.

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Thirty-two people, all Taiwanese, were confirmed dead and the remaining passengers were sent to hospitals for treatment, Tu said. The bus belonged to a private company, he said.

A bus accident in Taiwan last July killed 26 tourists from mainland China, raising concern from officials in Beijing about travel safety.

In a separate development, Taiwanese officials and media reports said a cold spell killed more than 150 people, most of them elderly and sick, over the past several days.

Temperatures fell as low as 44 degrees Thursday evening along the coast north of the capital, Taipei.

Temperatures in Taipei average 60 degrees in January, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau. Because of the relatively mild norms, most households in Taiwan lack central heating, another suspected factor in the recent deaths.

Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper and United Daily News said the deaths of 154 people since then were probably related to the cold. Reports say below-normal temperatures around much of the island from Thursday night through Sunday may have triggered deadly heart attacks and strokes as well as the deaths of elderly people with the flu.

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