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Driver arrested after six die and 39 are injured in Hong Kong highway bus crash

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Source: SCMP/On.cc/Appledaily youtube

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Six passengers were killed and 39 injured on Wednesday after a public double-decker bus ploughed into a roadside tree, the impact ripping away most of its roof on Hong Kong’s Fanling Highway.

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.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and Beijing’s liaison office in the city also expressed deep sorrow as they offered condolences. After visiting some of the injured at one of the hospitals, Carrie Lam said five support bases would be set up to help those affected. A social worker would help each family of those who were killed. The government would continue to make sure safe franchised bus services were provided, Lam said. She noted that an independent review committee that looked into a fatal bus crash in Tai Po in February last year had come up with 45 safety recommendations. “We must have a detailed investigation to find out the cause of the crash this time, but we and the public should also review the recommendations to see if there is any room to strengthen them,” she said.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the city’s No 2 official, visited Kwai Chung Public Mortuary and was saddened to learn that one of the women killed had worked for the Social Welfare Department. He said the support bases would provide help to her family. Dr Lo Kok-keung, a former lecturer on mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, said the impact of the force would have been about 42 tonnes, assuming the bus was running at about 60km/h (37mph). “The body and floor are usually made of reinforced glass fibre panels to make the bus lighter. They are not designed to withstand a crash. So in the case of a big impact, the bus can be torn apart easily,” Lo said. “Wearing seat belts may help the passengers avoid being thrown out of the vehicle on impact. If someone is thrown from a bus, they will hardly be able to survive.”

North district councillor Chan Wai-tat said route 978 was one of the city’s longest journeys, covering 50.8km (32 miles), and he questioned whether driver fatigue was a factor. In February 2018, a KMB double-decker 

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  in Tai Po, killing 19 people and injuring more than 60. It was the city’s worst road accident in nearly 15 years. According to police figures, 99 people died in 98 fatal road accidents in the first 11 months of this year. In the whole of last year, 135 people died in 107 accidents. 

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that is a pretty serious bus crash. hopefully the investigators will investigate this incident and find out the cause of the accident.

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Aw, this is so sad, so many people injured and 6 passed away

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This is a really bad accident.  RIP for those who died in the accident.

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