At least 32 Chinese tourists and four North Koreans have died in a major bus crash in North Korea, China's foreign ministry has said, with two more Chinese nationals seriously injured and left in critical condition.
The ministry says the crash occurred Sunday night in North Hwanghae province, south of the capital Pyongyang.
Experts estimate that Chinese tourists make up 80% of foreign tourists to North Korea - providing an important source of currency for Pyongyang.
China was informed about the accident on Sunday night, and its embassy personnel in Pyongyang rushed to the scene and are working to manage the situation, the foreign ministry said in a statement earlier. It said China had dispatched a medical team accompanied by diplomats to assist the North Korean side. The number of injured in the accident was not divulged.More news: Rockies Blow Cubs High With Bounce Back 5-3 W
Authorities of both countries have been making every effort to rescue the victims at the site and are in close communication to clarify the details of the accident, Kang said.
China's tourism authority does not publish a breakdown of the number of Chinese visitors to North Korea.
The accident comes as North Korea seemingly is engaged in a diplomatic charm offensive.
The segment of the road where the accident is believed to have occurred is now undergoing a major renovation project, ahead of Friday's summit between Korean leaders Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, multiple sources told NK News.More news: Liga's body found on sister's birthday; unfortunate coincidence
It runs north-south from Sinuiju on the Chinese border to the Demilitarized Zone on the border with the South, but nonetheless has little traffic, like all North Korean highways. For some, North Korea provides a window into what Communist China may have looked like decades ago. Vacationers are some of the the biggest collections of traffic into the most isolated, country.
The US has put a freeze on travel for its citizens in recent months, following the death of American tourist Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned in the repressive Stalinist country, ostensibly for attempting to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel.
North Korean roads are often bumpy and poorly maintained.More news: Southwest cancels flights due to engine inspections