32 Chinese tourists killed in North Korea crash

A traffic accident in North Korea has killed 32 Chinese tourists and four North Koreans, Chinese officials said.

Two other Chinese tourists were badly injured and are in a serious condition after the accident on Sunday night in North Hwanghae province, south of Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, the foreign ministry said.

Image taken from video footage by China's CCTV via AP Video, a bus which carries Chinese and North Koreans is seen overturn after an accident in North Hwanghae province, south of Pyongyang, North Korea.

Footage on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV showed the mangled wreckage of a bus in the dark as the rain falls. Rescue vehicles are on the scene, and the injured have been shown being treated in a hospital.

A Chinese medical team has been dispatched to assist the North Korean side, accompanied by diplomats.

China and North Korea share a lengthy border and a traditional friendship dating back to China's military intervention on the side of the North in the 1950-53 Korean War.

China remains Pyongyang's largest trading partner, although commerce has dropped off by about 90% under United Nations sanctions.

The ministry described the four North Koreans killed as "workers". Under North Korean rules, all visitors should be accompanied by minders.

Chinese tourists make up the vast majority of visitors to North Korea, where they often pay homage at sites related to China's participation in the war.

Only about 5,000 westerners visit the isolated, hard-line communist state each year. Americans have been banned from travelling to North Korea without special permission from the US state department since September amid concerns about the fate of those detained there in the past.

North Korean roads are often bumpy and poorly maintained. There is usually no lighting other than headlights at night, even on major roads outside the cities.

Drivers tend to travel at whatever speed they feel is safe, making the roads even more dangerous, particularly when the weather is bad.

Image taken from video footage by China's CCTV via AP Video, an injured passenger receives medical treatment at a hospital following a bus accident in North Hwanghae province, south of Pyongyang, North Korea.

- PA

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