Fifty-five people were injured, two seriously, in a three-bus collision in Wan Chai during rush hour last night.
Police said a New World First double-decker plying route 115 hit the back of a route 101 KMB bus loading passengers at a bus stop near the Tai Yau Building on Fleming Road at 7pm.
The impact sent the second bus into the back of another KMB double-decker at the stop.
It is the second crash to involve a New World First vehicle in little over a week. On November 20, two double-deckers crushed a taxi in an accident in Shau Kei Wan, killing the cabbie, two passengers in the taxi, and injuring 56. The passengers, Swede Carl Lindgren, 30; and Briton Jorge Herrena, 34, were top culinary staff at British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's famous Fat Duck restaurant.
Many passengers on the three buses were thrown out of their seats, leaving them with head and limb injuries. Two drivers were also slightly hurt.
Most of the passengers on the buses managed to leave the vehicles and wait for help on the road.
But a man and a woman on the New World First bus were stranded in their seats. It took firemen 20 minutes to free them with a hydraulic platform via one of the bus windows.
One of the injured pair was on an oxygen mask when carried away on a stretcher.
All of the injured were sent to Queen Mary, Ruttonjee or Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern hospitals.
Police Chief Inspector Tam Wing-leung, of the Hong Kong Island traffic unit, said they estimated the New World First bus was not travelling at a high speed when it crashed.
He said police would investigate whether the accident involved mechanical or human error, or if it was caused by someone violating traffic regulations.
The driver on the New World First double-decker was conscious when police arrived at the scene, Tam said. Police would also investigate whether the driver's condition - such as his health - was a factor in the accident, he said.
The injured driver on the sandwiched bus said that he ordered his passengers to evacuate after the collision.
"I was looking on as passengers were boarding, and suddenly there was a bang, and then I couldn't see because of all the smoke," he said.
New World First Bus said the bus involved was 14 years old. It was tested on October 30.
The crash caused a serious traffic jam in the area until the vehicles were towed away.