Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Page 4 News List

HK police probe bus crash that killed 19 people

AFP, HONG KONG

First responders work at the scene of a bus crash on Tai Po Road in Hong Kong on Saturday.

Photo: EPA

Hong Kong police yesterday said they were investigating a deadly bus accident that left 19 people dead and scores more injured, with the bus driver arrested for dangerous driving.

The double-decker bus overturned on Saturday evening near the town of Tai Po in the northern New Territories, flipping onto its side and appearing to smash into a lamp post.

Nineteen people were killed and 65 people were injured, some critically, local police said.

“The 30-year-old male bus driver was arrested for dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm. He is still being detained for further enquiries,” police said in a statement early yesterday.

Most of the injured and some of the dead were on the upper deck of the bus, Chan Hing-yu of the Hong Kong fire department said.

The driver was suspected of being over the speed limit as he went down a slope and lost control of the vehicle, Hong Kong Senior Traffic Superintendent Lee Chi-wai (李志偉) told reporters.

He was not in need of any medical treatment after the crash and was found to be sober, he added.

The accident has reignited a debate over working conditions for the territory’s bus drivers. The vehicle was managed by the Kowloon Motor Bus Co, one of the main bus operators in Hong Kong.

Its “management is at fault, and it did not attach importance to traffic safety nor to the staffing structure, work and rest, and training of drivers,” Lai Siu-chung, a representative of the motor transport workers’ union branch at the company, told reporters yesterday, according to local broadcaster TVB.

Lai said the company’s poor treatment of workers had led to labor shortages, adding that many drivers work under pressure and without adequate support.

“The industry wages of drivers have lagged behind inflation for many years ... as a result the number of drivers working extra shifts and part-time have increased,” said Hong Kong Legislator Luk Chung-hung (陸頌雄), who also questioned whether the company was paying enough attention to safety.

The company said it would pay compensation to survivors and victims’ families, but has not specifically responded to these allegations.

Speaking to local media, passengers said the bus was going too fast before the crash.

“It was much faster than I normally felt in a bus,” one injured passenger told the South China Morning Post’s online edition. “And then it was like the tire slipped and the bus turned. It was really chaotic in the bus. People fell on one another and got tossed from side to side.”

Before the crash, passengers had complained to the driver who was reportedly 10 minutes late and he then started speeding up, the Apple Daily reported, quoting injured passengers at the scene.

One injured passenger told the Oriental Daily it was like the driver was “intentionally using the bus to throw a tantrum.”

Democratic Party Legislator Lam Cheuk-ting (林卓廷) urged the Hong Kong government to rethink the design of double-decker buses, saying that the upper decks had been “repeatedly torn off in accidents, posing a serious threat to passengers on the upper level.”

He also called on the Hong Kong government to address the issue of many drivers working overly long hours.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), who late on Saturday visited survivors at the Prince of Wales Hospital, expressed “deep sorrow” and pledged there would be an independent investigation.

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