TSU, MIE PREF. – Twenty-three people were taken to hospitals after a tour bus and a dump truck collided on an expressway and tumbled off it on Tuesday, overturning on the grounds of a tea plantation 2 meters below, police said.
The crash in Mie Prefecture occurred at around 3:15 a.m. when the bus apparently rear-ended a truck carrying a nine-ton load of iron, the police said.
The bus left Tokyo Disneyland in Chiba Prefecture the previous night with 27 people aboard, according to bus operator Rose-Kanko Co. They were primarily from Okayama Prefecture, it was reported.
The 50-year-old driver was working an 11th straight night shift. The bus operator said the driver had an over eight-hour-break before working that night and that a standby driver was aboard the bus.
But the police said they are investigating the possibility that the driver may have been fatigued after working 11 consecutive nights.
The bus driver sustained a broken left leg. The police plan to question him, suspecting it could be a case of negligence resulting in injuries.
Others taken to hospitals are believed to have sustained light injuries. The standby driver said most passengers were asleep at the time of the accident.
Although both vehicles broke through a guardrail, the impact was possibly cushioned by the tea plantation below.
The 61-year-old driver of the truck said he felt an impact from behind at the time of the accident, according to the police.
The bus driver said the accident occurred after he tried to change lanes, the police said.
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