21 hurt as loose road covers hit double-decker in Aberdeen

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 May, 2010, 12:00am

A bus driver and 20 passengers were injured yesterday when metal panels covering pipe works beneath a road in Aberdeen dislodged and bounced up hitting the double-decker.

Describing the incident as 'very rare', Citybus said it appeared that the panels had ruptured the fuel tank of another bus which had minutes earlier driven over the same works site in Wong Chuk Hang Road.

The incidents sparked a Southern District councillor's call for the government to hold safety inspections at all roadworks sites to avoid more accidents and make sure such covers were properly secured. Tsui Yuen-wa said the recent heavy downpour might have dislodged the panels.

Yesterday, a route 97 bus, with about 100 passengers on board, was approaching a bus stop near the Aberdeen Technical School at 7.15am.

Initial investigation showed two of the metal panels had bounced up hitting the undercarriage of the bus as it drove over the site, a policeman said. He said the force of the jolt shook the bus and passengers were thrown from their seats.

An uninjured male passenger said: 'The whole vehicle bounced up and down several times.'

A woman, who had a broken front tooth after she was hurled into the seat in front, said she saw an elderly man being thrown from his seat in front of her onto the floor.

An injured schoolboy said: 'I was asleep at the time. There was a loud bang. I woke and found my glasses had been flung off.'

The bus driver, 49, and 20 passengers aged between 11 and 64 - 10 males and 11 females - were taken to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai. One of the injured passengers, a 40-year-old man, was transferred to Queen Mary Hospital, Pok Fu Lam, and is in serious condition. All the other injured people had been discharged. Police are investigating.

A Citybus spokeswoman said that minutes before the route 97 accident, it appeared that the fuel tank of another double-decker route 99 had been ruptured when it drove over the same site. No one was injured.

The Water Supplies Department said the pipe-replacement works had been suspended. A spokeswoman said that at the end of each work day, onsite workers from the department's contractors were responsible for safety inspections of metal panels.

A Highways Department spokeswoman said excavation permit holders were required to supervise contractors to ensure they observe the rules. Permit rules required temporary metal panels to fully cover any excavation site and should be on the same level as the road.