At least 18 dead, over 50 injured in ‘chaotic’ Hong Kong double-decker bus crash

The double-decker came to a stop tipped on its side on Tai Po Road. Photo: Felix Wong

Cause of accident that took place on Tai Po Road not yet established, but multiple passengers say vehicle was going fast

Shirley Zhao  Kimmy Chung

UPDATED : 

Cause of accident that took place on Tai Po Road not yet established, but multiple passengers say vehicle was going fast

At least 18 people were killed and over 50 injured in a double-decker bus crash in Hong Kong’s New Territories on Saturday evening.

The fatalities included at least 15 men and three women. They were confirmed dead at the scene.

At least 19 of the 37 people hurt in the crash were in serious condition. Photo: Felix WongAt least 19 of the 37 people hurt in the crash were in serious condition. Photo: Felix Wong

As of 9pm, at least 47 people were sent to 12 hospitals across the city, and 19 were in serious condition.

All passengers were rescued from the bus as of 9.30pm.

Dozens of first-aid workers were tending to the injured at the scene. Photo: Felix WongDozens of first-aid workers were tending to the injured at the scene. Photo: Felix Wong

Several passengers said the driver was driving very fast before the crash. One said he had been upset.

The force said it received multiple calls around 6pm to report the accident after the KMB route 872 bus, heading from Sha Tin racecourse to Tai Po Centre, flipped on its side in Tai Po Kau, Tai Po Road.

The cause has not yet been established.

The bus crashed on a downslope near Tsung Tsai Yuen. The roof of the double-decker was torn off in the crash. Police said a 30-metre skid mark could be seen at the scene and that the speed of the bus before the accident was under investigation.

The roof was torn off, but the cause of the accident was unknown. Photo: FacebookThe roof was torn off, but the cause of the accident was unknown. Photo: Facebook

A male passenger said of the driver: “He was late for 10 minutes. He was grumpy because some people criticised him for being late. He then started to drive the bus like he was driving a plane.”

Another passenger said: “He was driving very fast, extremely fast, even if he was driving down a slope.”

A passenger, who had his right leg bandaged, said the double-decker was going fast when the accident happened.

It was like the tyre slipped, and the bus turned

injured passenger

“It was much faster than I normally felt in a bus,” he said, sitting by the road. “And then it was like the tyre slipped, and the bus turned. It was really chaotic in the bus. People fell on one another and got tossed from side to side.”

The man said he managed to get out of the bus by himself.

“My leg feels numb,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion. “My leg really hurts.”

Many injured passengers were sitting by the road awaiting medical help. Many had bandages wrapped around their heads. Dozens of first-aid workers were tending to the injured at the scene.

Several people were carried away by stretcher, their head covered in blood.

Most of the injured were sent to Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Ho Man Tin and United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong.

There were no signs that he was exhausted

KMB’s Godwin So, of the bus driver

KMB general manager Godwin So Wai-kei said at the crash scene that the company would issue HK$80,000 (US$10,000) as a condolence allowance for each injured person and deceased person’s family.

The company is setting up two hotlines: one for inquires on the allowance and one for psychological counselling for anyone affected by the accident.

So said the driver had joined the company in 2014 and last September changed to working part-time.

“There were no signs that he was exhausted,” So added, saying the driver had been working for seven hours each of the past four days and was on a four-hour shift on Saturday.

He had experience in driving the route and the last time was in mid-January, So said.

The general manager added that the company would launch an investigation on the cause of the accident, led by independent directors of the firm, and that it would hand in the report to the Transport Department in a month’s time.

At least 20 people were known to be trapped inside the bus. Photo: FacebookAt least 20 people were known to be trapped inside the bus. Photo: Facebook

The accident is one of the worst since 2003, when 21 people were killed as a double-decker plunged off a Tuen Mun flyover after colliding with a container truck.

In 2008, a speeding bus careered out of control at a Sai Kung roundabout, leaving 18 people dead and 44 injured.

Last September, three people were killed and 29 injured when a double-decker bus mounted a pavement and ploughed into pedestrians at the junction of Yen Chow Street and Cheung Sha Wan Road in Sham Shui Po during rush hour.

The number of traffic accidents grew from 14,776 in 1997 to 16,079 in 2016. Given the increasing population this is to be expected but, marking a positive trend, while there were more accidents, less resulted in fatalities, with 243 in 1997 versus 132, last year

SOURCE: Census and Statistical Department, Hong Kong 

SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/2132850/least-nine-dead-40-injured-hong-kong-double-decker-bus

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