Thirteen Chinese tourists including eight women were confirmed dead yesterday(19 August ）following an accident on Monday involving a tour bus which skidded off a downhill mountain road in Luang Prabang province.
The bus was carrying 46 people including a Lao driver and a Lao tour guide, Head of Office of the Luang Prabang provincial Police Command.
Headquarters, Lieutenant Colonel Somboun Thanavanh, told Vientiane Times yesterday.
The rest of the passengers were transferred to hospitals for treatment. The most seriously injured were taken to Vientiane.
The Lao bus skidded off the road and plummeted downhill for about 100 metres as it was passing through Nameuang village, Nan district.
Soldiers, police officers and rescue teams arrived at the scene soon after being informed of the accident by nearby villagers and passing motorists. They battled difficult conditions to rescue the victims.
By Tuesday morning all of the dead bodies trapped inside the badly-damaged bus had been retrieved.
The cause of the accident remains unknown as the victims are unable to provide details of what actually happened.
“The driver, tour guide and passengers are injured and are still unable to give us any details about the incident,” the lieutenant colonel, who oversaw the rescue operation, said.
“We are unable to comment on the cause of the accident right now.”
Police said there were several possible reasons for the fatal accident. The bus may have experienced a mechanical problem, or the steep and winding road could have caused the driver to lose control.
Although the road, which connects Kasy district in Vientiane province with Nan district, is a short cut in the journey between central and northern Laos, the road has several steep and sharply curved sections which require vehicles to be in good condition and an experienced driver to navigate the bends.
Lieutenant Colonel Somboun said the authorities had already issued a warning advising passenger vehicles and transport trucks to avoid this road due to the difficult conditions, but saying it should not pose a problem for smaller vehicles and experienced drivers.
Chinese Ambassador to Laos Jiang Zaidong told reporters in Luang Prabang yesterday that the Chinese leadership attached great importance to the incident.
Speaking through an interpreter on a live broadcast by China Radio International (CRI), the ambassador said the Chinese authorities had asked the embassy to work with the Lao side in the rescue and assistance mission.
The ambassador spoke highly of the great care taken by the relevant Lao sectors and people during the course of the rescue operation and in providing assistance to those who were injured.
Helicopters flew medical specialists to Luang Prabang to provide immediate treatment to the victims and transferred people who were seriously injured to Vientiane.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to the Party and government; national defence and security forces; information, culture and tourism sector; Luang Prabang province, as well as the Lao people for extending important support and assistance to the Chinese side,” the ambassador told the media.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo