TAIPEI, TAIWAN - Investigators were looking into excessive speed as the possible cause of a bus crash in Taiwan that killed 33 people and injured several others in the island's worst road accident in more than three decades, an official said Tuesday.
The bus flipped over Monday evening while cornering on an expressway ramp in Taiwan's capital Taipei after taking a tour group to view cherry blossoms.
Highway police spokesman Ma Ling-wen said the speed limit on the ramp was 40 kph (25 mph) but it was not clear how fast the bus had been going. Ma said speed had not yet been ruled out as a cause of the crash.
The bus was carrying 44 people, mainly senior citizens, many of whom were trapped under the crushed wreckage. Rescuers were forced to use a crane to pry the vehicle open.
Thirty-two people, all Taiwanese, were confirmed dead and the remaining passengers were sent to hospitals for treatment. Both the bus driver and tour guide were among the dead.
Taiwan's Premier Lin Chuan told reporters the government would provide assistance to the bereaved families and conduct a "thorough review" once the immediate work had been completed, the official Central News Agency reported.
The agency said the accident was the worst ever on Taiwan's highway network and the island's deadliest since a tour bus crashed into a ravine on a winding mountain road on Oct. 8, 1986, killing 42 people.
The bus belonged to the private Yongli Keyun transit company and had been turning off the No. 5 freeway onto the No. 3 freeway in the eastern Taipei district of Nangang when it crashed at about 9 p.m.
A bus accident in Taiwan last July killed 26 tourists from mainland China, prompting an across-the-board review of tour bus safety. Investigators said the driver in that crash was drunk and had intentionally set the bus alight as it traveled to Taiwan's main airport.