Three dead and two critical after bus mounts pavement in one of Hong Kong’s busiest districts
Citybus driver later arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving causing death
Three people were killed and 29 injured, two of them critically, when a double decker bus mounted a pavement and ploughed into pedestrians in one of Hong Kong’s busiest districts during rush hour on Friday.
The accident, at around 6.30pm at the junction of Yen Chow Street and Cheung Sha Wan Road in Sham Shui Po, left four people trapped under the Citybus vehicle and four passengers stuck on the upper deck.
Police said the bus had been trying to avoid hitting a taxi which suddenly slowed down in front.
The accident, one of the worst in recent memory, sparked a full-blown emergency, turning the roadside into a triage zone as stunned victims were treated by paramedics on the scene.
A middle-aged woman, who was sitting on the fifth row on the upper deck, was declared dead at the scene, while two men, aged 48 and 60, succumbed to their injuries in hospital.
All passengers were rescued within 30 minutes.
Acting chief executive Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who visited the injured in hospital, promised full assistance and support for the victims.
The 44-year-old driver, who escaped unhurt, was taken away by police for questioning and later arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving causing death.
Citybus said the driver had been working for the franchised operator since May 2012, and had started his shift on Friday just an hour before the crash.
The bus slammed into the pavement railing, a road sign and an overhanging building canopy, part of which went through the front window of the upper deck. Concrete rubble was scattered on the upper deck and the windows on the left side of the bus were smashed as well.
The route E21A double decker operated by Citybus was on its way to Oi Man Estate in Ho Man Tin from Yat Tung Estate in Tung Chung on Lantau Island.
“Everything just happened too quickly. When the driver swerved, before I knew it, the bus was already on the pavement,” a passenger said, adding that the double decker did not appear to be speeding at the time.
The road junction was cordoned off as crowds of onlookers gathered. Police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances occupied a long section of Cheung Sha Wan Road near the scene.
Waqas Khan, owner of a nearby restaurant, recalled hearing the loud sound of the bus crashing.
“There were people bleeding and running everywhere, including elderly and children,” Khan said. “We were very scared ourselves. I ran over there and tried to help pull out [those trapped under the bus] but I couldn’t. So I told them not to move. They were conscious and some of them were crying.”
A member of staff at a Korean snack stall opposite the crash site saw passengers getting off the bus, while some remained on the upper deck, unable to move.
“I think they were stuck,” she said. “They had to be removed by rescuers.”
She praised passers-by for trying to help those trapped under the bus and attending to victims amid the chaos.
The accident was one of the worst since 2008 when a speeding bus went out of control at a Sai Kung roundabout, leaving 18 people dead and 44 injured.
In an even more horrific crash, 21 people were killed in 2003 when a double decker plunged off a Tuen Mun flyover after colliding with a container truck.
Mong Kok fire station commander Choi Wai-fung said: “Many seats on the upper deck were twisted, and [the deceased] was trapped in between seats.”
“When we arrived at the scene, there were many who were injured and we needed to find a way into the bus. It was very narrow inside the bus, especially the upper deck, so we needed to rescue those who are trapped inside as soon as possible,” Choi added.
A spokesman from Citybus said they were “deeply saddened” by the accident and said they would provide assistance to families of the wounded and the deceased.
Additional reporting by Clifford Lo