Feb. 10 (UPI) — A double-decker bus filled with passengers heading home from a day at a horse track crashed Saturday in Hong Kong, killing 18 people and injuring more than 60 others, authorities said.
The same private bus company, KMB, was involved in Hong Kong’s worst traffic crash, when 21 died and 20 were injured in 2003 after a double-decker bus crashed through a guardrail and down a hill after colliding with a truck.
Saturday’s crash, the deadliest since that incident 15 years ago, occurred at 6:15 p.m. but it wasn’t until three and a half hours later that all the survivors and bodies were removed.
Fifteen men and three women died in the crash and 61 passengers were treated at 12 hospitals in the city, the South China Morning Post reported. Ten were listed in critical condition and 15 serious.
The bus was on its way from Sha Tin racecourse to Tai Po Centre when it flipped onto its side while attempting to turn. Senior police superintendent Li Chi-wai, of New Territories North, said the driver likely was “speeding when driving down a slope, lost control” and then “turned over on its left.”
“He was late for 10 minutes,” a passenger told the China Morning Post. “He was grumpy because some people criticized him for being late. He then started to drive the bus like he was flying a plane.”
Another passenger said: “He was driving very fast, extremely fast, even if he was driving down a slope.”
Li said that the driver had not been under the influence of alcohol and had not needed any medical help.
KMB general manager Godwin So Wai-kei said the 30-year-old unidentified driver joined the company in 2014 and had driven the route before.
“There were no signs that he was exhausted” on his four-hour shift Saturday, So said.
Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, announced that the government would set up an independent committee to probe bus safety.
So also said KMB also will investigate the crash.
He said the franchise bus company would pay $10,000 to each injured person and family of the deceased.