Chinese tour bus plunges from North Korea bridge; dozens feared dead

The Friendship Bridge between North Korea and China. Many Chinese tourists travel to the North each year

China's worldwide ministry says 32 Chinese language residents and 4 North Koreans have been killed in a visitors accident in southern North Korea.

For its part, Chinese state television CGTN reported earlier Monday on Twitter that a tourist bus had fallen off a bridge in North Korea, and that "more than 30 people" had been killed in the accident. The tweet was later deleted.

Chinese state media footage showed the blue tour bus completely flipped over, with part of its body broken.

North Hwanghae Province, the North Korean border region just north of Seoul, includes Kaesong, the capital of Korea's Koryo Dynasty (918-1392).

China was informed late Sunday of the accident and its embassy in Pyongyang dispatched personnel to the scene, the ministry said.

Tens of thousands of Chinese tourists are believed to visit the North every year, with many crossing via train through the Chinese border city of Dandong.

China, known as North Korea's main economic lifeline, used to account for almost 90 percent of the neighboring country's external trade. 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 and South Korea are in the final stages of preparations for a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Friday. Among the most recent, a wave of incursions on mainly USA engineering and defence companies linked to the South China Sea, where China's claims for more than 80 per cent of the water clash with five other nations. Among the casualties could be members of a group of Chinese travel company staff from Beijing.

However, they admitted there were a large number of casualties.

As the home for historic monuments and sites, the ancient capital has become North Korea's second World Heritage site after the Complex of Koguryo Tombs in Pyongyang.

China's foreign ministry said it activated an emergency mechanism Sunday night and is "sparing no efforts" to handle the situation.

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