Five people were killed and 32 injured yesterday when a bus carrying Cathay Pacific Airways (國泰航空) staff to Hong Kong International Airport collided with a taxi, police said, with passengers thrown from the bus’ windows on impact.
The back half of the taxi was completely crushed and both sides of the bus were damaged, with traces of blood on the outside following the crash on Tsing Yi Island.
The collision happened in the left lane of the main road — the taxi had stopped with its hazard lights on and the coach plowed into it, police said.
“We believe the taxi was broken down and stopped in the left lane of the road. Around 40 seconds later, a coach hit it from behind,” Hong Kong Police Force Superintendent Yip Siu-ming (葉小明) said.
The bus then lost control, hitting the right-hand guardrail and then the left one, throwing three passengers out of the vehicle, he said.
The 62-year-old driver was also hurled from the vehicle and injured, he added.
The taxi driver, two men and two female bus passengers were killed, police said.
One person remained in a critical condition and another in a serious condition, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority said.
The rest of the injured were either stable or had been released from hospital, it said.
Debris, including glass and personal belongings, was strewn across the main road, which remained closed early yesterday.
The Hong Kong carrier said that “a shuttle bus carrying our employees was involved in a traffic accident this morning.”
“It is a tragic and very sad incident. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who have sadly passed away,” the airline said.
The company later confirmed that two fatalities were from its staff.
Those involved in the crash came from its airport, catering and ground handling operations, it said.
“This is a difficult time for our community and we will do all we can to support everyone affected by this accident,” Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg said in a statement.
Police would look into whether the bus driver — who had been working for 10 consecutive hours at the time of the accident — had been tired or had consumed alcohol, Yip said.
“From what we can see, it’s obvious that the driver did not see the broken-down taxi on the road and hit it from behind,” Yip said, adding that the driver’s work hours were from 7pm to 7am.
Kwoon Chung Bus (冠忠巴士) said that the driver had been at the company for 12 years and had not declared any health problems.
The driver had had enough rest and had taken eight days off last month, Kwoon Chung Bus chairman Matthew Wong (黃良柏) told reporters.
Within his working day, the driver would have been on the road for six to seven hours, Wong said.
The accident happened at 5am near the exit of a tunnel.
TV footage showed the injured being treated by the side of the road before they were taken to four hospitals.
The South China Morning Post quoted one bus passenger as saying that the bus felt like it was speeding before it crashed into the taxi.
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