Sapporo – Dozens of tourists were injured Friday when their sightseeing bus veered off a road and tipped over in Shimizu, Hokkaido, local firefighters said.
The bus, carrying 46 tourists from Kanto region and three staff, was operated by Abashiri Kanko Kotsu, based in Ozora, Hokkaido.
The accident took place at around 3:45 p.m. when the bus ran off National Route 274 and onto a grassy field for several meters before falling over. About 30 of the 49 people aboard were injured.
Four people were reportedly rushed to Obihiro Kosei Hospital in Obihiro, just south of Shimizu. Two were women with serious injuries, NHK reported.
The bus was traveling from Kitahiroshima, Hokkaido, to a hotel near Lake Akan in Kushiro as part of a four-day package tour.
The driver, Yasushi Ando, 58, said he wasn’t watching the road.
“I was absented-mined and was looking away” at the time, Ando was quoted as saying by the local police. Ando has 20 years’ experience as a driver.
On July 30, another bus run by the same company but a different driver ran off a road in Kushiro, injuring six people.
“The bus was traveling along a straight road when it fell off the left side,” a 50-year-old man from Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, was quoted as saying Friday by NHK. He said that he felt “a strong shock” and that the bus never slowed.
“My wife and I were looking forward to the Hokkaido tour, so it was very disappointing,” said the man, whose name was withheld.