Even as tensions over the North’s nuclear program have risen over the past year, the flow of tourists from China has continued. In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 237,000 Chinese people visited the country.
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The circumstances of the crash, which occurred in North Hwanghae province, near the border with South Korea, remained unclear on Monday, and there was limited coverage in China’s state-run news media. An English-language channel affiliated with China Central Television, the state broadcaster, reported on Twitter that the bus had fallen from a bridge. The post was later deleted.
Chinese state television broadcast images of an overturned blue bus and what appeared to be medical workers tending to injured passengers. The images, taken at night, showed heavy rain.
President Xi Jinping of China instructed the authorities to “take all necessary measures” to save the injured tourists and to care for the relatives of those who were injured or killed in the crash, according to Chinese news reports.
Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, an agency in Beijing that organizes travel to North Korea, said that traffic accidents involving tourists were infrequent. He said he had visited the North 169 times but had only been involved in one accident.
“Certainly, they have problems with infrastructure and that doesn’t help with road safety,” he said. “But it’s not like every time I go there I’m rolling the dice.”