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Suspending business with US tour agent adviced

The Shanghai Tourism Trade Association on Wednesday recommended that local travel agencies suspend business with the U.S. Galaxy Travel Agency, which was involved in an accident in which seven people died and 10 others were injured.


A bus with 15 Chinese tourists, a driver and tour guide on board, crashed last Friday on a road near the Hoover Dam in the U.S. state of Arizona. Six of the tourists and a tour guide died and 10 others, including the driver, were injured.


On Monday another group organized by a Shanghai-based travel agency was involved in an accident near Philadelphia. The tour bus, carrying 15 Chinese tourists, a tour leader and a tour guide, backed up and collided with a minibus behind it, leaving the tour guide and a tourist injured, according to the Shanghai Tourism Administration Tuesday.


Both accidents involved the Texas-based Galaxy Travel Agency, said Huang Guangrong, deputy head of Shanghai Tourism Trade Association on Wednesday.


"The first case is very complicated. So we hope business with the Galaxy Travel Agencies can be suspended so that it can concentrate on the investigation and dealing with the aftermath," Huang said.


A second group of 11 relatives of the victims and injured, together with a lawyer and a doctor, left Shanghai Pudong International Airport Wednesday after the first group of 13 family members, accompanied by three municipal government officials and one employee with Donghu Travel Agency, left for the United States on Tuesday.


The first group arrived in Los Angeles at around 10 a.m. local time Tuesday. At about 1:30 p.m., they will reach Las Vegas where the injured were hospitalized, according to the China Eastern Airline.


The purpose of the trip is to claim the bodies of six of the dead Chinese tourists and visit seven others who remain in hospital. Two of the injured have been released from hospital.


According to earlier reports, there were 15 Chinese tourists aboard the bus involved in the fatal accident. The tourists were on their way back from visiting the Grand Canyon as part of an optional trip. Five members of the 20-member group, which had flown from Shanghai to San Francisco as part of a package trip, chose not to take part in the bus tour.


The cause of the fatal accident is still under investigation.


The China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co. Ltd. (CPIC) has paid 1.85 million yuan (270,000 U.S. dollars) to families of the six dead from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, according to the CPIC Shanghai Branch.


The Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China (PICC), Ltd will also pay 946,000 yuan (138,000 U.S. dollars) to the families of the five customers who died in the accident. The other two injured will receive compensation according to the agreement, said a statement of PICC, adding that the victims' family members will be paid after they come back from the U.S.


(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2009)