The driver of a KMB double-decker bus was arrested for dangerous driving after six passengers were killed and 39 injured when the bus hit a tree along Fanling Highway. The impact of the crash ripped away most of the bus' roof.
Three men and two women died on the spot near Tsung Pak Long in Sheung Shui, while a third woman succumbed to her injuries in hospital.
All of them had been sitting on the upper deck, and two passengers were tossed out of the KMB vehicle when it crashed into a roadside barrier before hitting the tree at around 4.15pm.
The 56-year-old driver was arrested for dangerous driving causing death. KMB said he had been with the company for 18 years and had just returned for duty after taking a rest on Tuesday.
Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, said she was shocked and saddened by the crash, as she offered her condolences to the victims and promised government support.
A passenger who suffered minor injuries said the bus, on route 978 between Wan Chai North and Fanling, appeared to be travelling at normal speed when it ran into trouble. It was on its way to Sheung Shui when it crashed near a roundabout on Po Shek Wu Road.
“There were broken limbs and someone had head injuries,” he said. “The staircase was smashed, and we had to come down from the rear with the help of firefighters.”
Superintendent Chan Siu-ming of the New Territories North traffic police said the bus had been running on the slow lane, but veered into the roadside barrier on the left before hitting the tree.
The bodies of three passengers were found on the left side of the upper deck and one body was recovered from the staircase. The two who were flung out of the upper deck were also killed.
Ten fire engines, 16 ambulances and a mobile casualty treatment centre were deployed to the scene after the accident was reported at 4.19pm.
A Hospital Authority spokesman said 39 people – including two children, aged three and 12 – received treatment in five hospitals. Six were in a serious condition, 28 were stable and five were discharged.
The left side of the bus bore the brunt of the damage. The windscreen was smashed, top-deck seats at the front were dislodged and a part of the upper left side, along with the roof, was torn off.
A passenger sitting on the lower deck said the bus had been going at normal speed.
“I didn’t feel the bus braking before it crashed,” he said. “There was a loud bang. I first thought it had rammed into a vehicle in front. After I left the bus, I realised it had hit a tree and part of the roof was ripped off.”
Andrew Kwan Chi-wai, safety director at KMB, said the driver had passed a health check in September, and had worked on the same route for more than two years. He had started work shortly before 7am and it was his last trip of the day when the bus crashed.
The last time the driver was named in an incident report was for a minor case within a depot in 2017, Kwan added, and the latest accident had nothing to do with manpower issues that have cropped up in the past.
The bus had been in service for five years and passed a test on Wednesday, the safety director said.
An internal probe would be conducted and the company would work with police in the investigation, KMB said.
“KMB is very concerned about the incident and has sent staff to the site and hospitals to learn more and comfort the injured,” a spokesman said, adding that the company would provide help to the families of the deceased and the survivors.