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Five Germans Die in Bus Fire Near Beijing After Truck Crash

Six people, including five German nationals, died in a bus fire near Beijing yesterday, the official Xinhua News Service reported, citing police in the neighboring city of Tianjin.

The Chinese driver also died and 14 people were injured when the bus, carrying a group organized by China Youth Travel Service, rear-ended a container truck on a Beijing-Tianjin expressway, Xinhua said. German Ambassador Michael Schaefer arrived in Tianjin yesterday afternoon to visit the injured tourists, Xinhua said, without citing anyone.

China said Aug. 29 it would inspect road safety nationwide after traffic accidents in the previous two weeks, including one that killed 36 people, spurred public criticism of the government. Safety standards for long-distance buses will be checked, China’s State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement dated Aug. 27.

A failure to minimize fatal road accidents from human error may cause the people to lose trust in the government, a Xinhua commentary said at the time.

Of the 14 people injured yesterday, 12 were German and two Chinese, Xinhua said, citing a doctor at People’s Hospital in Tianjin’s Wuqing district, who identified himself only by his surname, Zhang. Of those hurt, 11 were being treated in the hospital, including nine tourists, Xinhua said.

Three more-seriously injured patients were transferred to the Tianjin Municipal People’s Hospital and the First Hospital for treatment, Xinhua said, citing Zhang.

Hospital Visit

The largely “middle age” group was scheduled to visit the First Hospital affiliated to Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the afternoon, Xinhua said, citing Fu Dechao, the group’s translator, who wasn’t on the bus.

China’s Ministry of Public Security sent a working team to Tianjin oversee an investigation to the cause of the accident, Xinhua reported.

The German embassy didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment via its website, and a phone call to the emergency number reached a recording saying the embassy was closed yesterday. Most businesses and government offices in China are shut for the weeklong National Day break.

Two calls to China Youth Travel went unanswered and a man who answered the phone at the Tianjin police traffic accident inquiry line declined to comment or provide his name.

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