Bus passengers yesterday described how they saw their driver collapse moments before the bus careened down a hill and caused a three-vehicle pile-up that left three people in a crushed taxi dead, and injured 56.
One man remained in critical condition last night after the crash on Hong Kong Island, in which the out-of-control bus struck two cars before hitting the taxi and another bus.
The taxi was crushed between the two buses. The three occupants were trapped inside for more than an hour before they could be cut from the wreckage.
The accident occurred as the New World First Bus double-decker on the No.8 route descended steep Chai Wan Road towards Shau Kei Wan at 11.40am.
"I heard the driver shout loudly. I thought he was only taking a deep breath so I didn't pay attention," a woman said.
"Then I heard a bang and other passengers said, 'the driver is not doing well'. I looked at the driver and he had already collapsed, with his body tilting to one side.
"I stood up and asked: 'Does any one know how to drive?' But no one knew," she said. "No one could control the bus and it just ran downhill on its own."
The woman said she could not recall exactly how the impact occurred, as she had already been thrown to the floor.
Police said First Bus driver Lau Chit, 57, was arrested for dangerous driving causing death and he had been released on bail.
Police said his vehicle had veered into the oncoming lane and collided with a Kowloon Motor Bus vehicle ascending the hill on the 118 route near the junction of Ah Kung Ngam Road, with the taxi caught between the two.
The taxi passengers were named as Swede Carl Magnus Lindgren, 30, Briton Ivan Aranto Herrera Jorge, 34, and driver Wong Kim-chung, 53.
They were declared dead at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.
Of the injured, aged from seven months to 90 years, 18 remained in hospital yesterday.
Derek Armstrong Chan of the Fire Services Department said it took time to extract the three victims from the wrecked taxi. The brakes of both buses were locked, and they could not be towed apart by trucks.
Eleven fire engines, 22 ambulances and 60 firemen were dispatched to the rescue scene.
Police have appealed to any witnesses to call 36617620 or 31068848.