HONG KONG: The driver of a double-decker bus that overturned in Hong Kong killing at least 19 people and injuring 65 was arrested on Saturday evening for dangerous driving, police said.

Images from the scene showed rescuers trying to reach passengers trapped inside the bus, which lay on its side with part of its roof torn off near the town of Tai Po in the northern New Territories.

It appeared to have slid on its side and hit a lamppost which smashed into the upper decks of the vehicle. The driver has been arrested on charges of causing death and grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving.

A press release by the Hong Kong government on Sunday said that 14 men and four women were certified dead at scene.

In addition, 63 men and three women were injured and sent to various hospitals for medical treatment. One man was later certified dead in hospital, taking the death toll to 19.

The police are investigating the fatal accident, which took place at about 6.15pm on Saturday, the release 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,” the release said.

Most of the dead and injured were on the upper deck of the bus, Chan Hing-yu of the fire department told reporters.

The driver was suspected of being over the speed limit as he went down a slope and lost control of the vehicle, senior traffic superintendent Lee Chi-wai told reporters.

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

‘REALLY CHAOTIC’

Speaking to local media, passengers said the bus was going to 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 tyre slipped, and the bus turned. It was really chaotic in the bus. People fell on one another and got tossed from side to side,” he said.

The double-decker bus toppled over at Tai Po Road. (Photo: Facebook/Yuki Wong)

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 said it was like the driver was “intentionally using the bus to throw a tantrum.”

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

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

City leader Carrie Lam, who visited survivors at the Prince of Wales Hospital late on Saturday, expressed “deep sorrow” and pledged there would be an independent investigation.

DEADLY DOUBLE-DECKER ACCIDENTS

The southern Chinese city promotes its public transport system as one of the best infrastructures in the world but fatal accidents do occasionally happen.

Hong Kong’s worst road traffic accident occurred in 2003 when a double-decker bus collided with a truck and plunged from a bridge, killing 21 people.

In 2008, 18 people were killed in another bus crash.

Fourteen people were injured last April when a double-decker tram tipped over, with a 23-year-old driver later arrested for dangerous driving causing harm to others.

The safety of Hong Kong’s notoriously crowded waterways has also remained under scrutiny since 39 people were killed when a high-speed ferry and a pleasure boat crashed in 2012.



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