1 killed, 25 injured in tunnel pile-up

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2006, 12:00am

Road safety campaign for bus drivers to be brought forward after second fatal crash in a month

Police will bring forward a road safety campaign aimed at bus drivers after a Citybus captain was killed and 25 people injured, three seriously, in a five-vehicle nose-to-tail pile-up in a tunnel yesterday.

A bus, serving the A21 airport route, cannoned into the rear of a truck that was slowing for a traffic jam in the Kowloon-bound lane of the Cheung Tsing Tunnel at Tsing Yi at about 8.35am.

The truck was pushed forward 15 metres, crashing it into a coach. This coach then hit another coach which collided with a minibus.

The rear of the truck up to its back wheels was embedded in the bus cabin.

The 40-year-old bus driver, Wong Tung-ming, an upper deck front-row passenger and the truck driver were trapped in the wreckage and had to be freed by firemen.

Superintendent Law King-fu, of the New Territories South traffic unit, said Wong's 'late perception' of the slowing traffic appeared to be the cause of the accident.

'No brake mark was left behind by the double-decker,' he said. 'It suggests that the bus has not been emergency braking.'

A male passenger, who was sitting on the upper deck of the bus, told Cable TV: 'Suddenly, there was a loud bang. Two of the front-row passengers had their legs trapped but they managed to climb out.'

Thirteen ambulances, eight fire engines and a mobile casualty treatment vehicle were sent to the scene.

The victims, 14 males and 12 females aged 11 to 73, were sent to Princess Margaret Hospital, Yan Chai Hospital and Caritas Medical Centre. Wong was declared dead at Princess Margaret Hospital at about 10.25am.

Three men, including the truck driver, were in serious condition last night and seven people were stable. The others were discharged.

The bus was carrying 30 passengers from the airport to Hunghom.

The minibus, carrying a group of mainland tourists, and the two coaches had stopped and the truck was slowing at the time of impact.

Police said the Kowloon-bound tunnel was closed for more than an hour and the crash had also disrupted traffic in the area for more than two hours.

It was the second fatal crash involving a public bus in a month. On July 17, a bus passenger died and 17 others were injured when a Kowloon Motor Bus vehicle crashed into a container truck that had broken down on Kwai Chung Road.

Mr Law said police would bring forward their scheduled road safety seminars and workshops to drivers from franchised bus companies, reminding them to pay attention to lane discipline, stopping distance, speed and other safety factors.

He said the site of the crash was not a traffic black spot. On July 3, 40 people were injured when a private bus and three container trucks crashed in the Kowloon-bound lane of the tunnel.

A Citybus spokesman said Wong joined the company about eight years ago. He had driven the A21 route for several years.

She said the accident happened on his first return trip from the airport. He had left the firm's Hunghom terminal at about 6.30am.

The England-made double-decker passed its annual inspection in March and its monthly inspection, and there was no report of any mechanical problem when its driver picked it up at its Kowloon depot yesterday, she said. All drivers have to check their buses when they collect them at bus depots.