BEIJING -- A bus carrying many German tourists hit the back of a truck and burst into flames Monday on an expressway in northern China, killing five Germans and a Chinese citizen, state media reported.
The accident happened near Tianjin on an expressway that links that port city with the capital Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The bus was engulfed in flames and black smoke, and was a charred skeleton of metal by the time the fire was out.
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Xinhua quoted police as saying the bus rear-ended a container truck and caught fire. The driver was one of the dead.
It said 12 Germans and two Chinese were hurt, suffering from burns, fractures and bruises. They were first taken to a local hospital, but Xinhua said the three most serious cases, all German, were transferred to Tianjin Municipal People's Hospital and to the city's First Hospital for treatment.
The cause of the accident is under investigation, Xinhua said. It said the German ambassador to China, Michael Schaefer, went to Tianjin to visit the injured.
Road safety is a serious problem in China. According to government statistics, poorly maintained roads and bad driving habits result in about 70,000 deaths and 300,000 injuries a year.