At least five people were killed and more than 30 others injured after a tourist coach collided with a taxi in Tsing Yi on Friday morning, in the second deadliest road incident in Hong Kong this year.
In the accident that happened shortly before 5 am, a bus carrying workers to the airport rammed into the back of a stationary taxi near an exit of Nam Wan Tunnel, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
The taxi is believed to have stopped by the roadside, with its hazard warning lights on, after suffering a breakdown, when the collision took place.
As many as 10 ambulances were dispatched to the scene.
The coach passengers were employees of five companies working at the Hong Kong International Airport, RTHK citing a police source as saying.
One of the companies involved is Cathay Pacific Group. A spokeswoman for Cathay confirmed that a shuttle bus carrying some of its workers had been involved in a traffic accident.
The company has sent some staff to hospitals to assist the employees injured in the crash, she said.
Later in the day, Cathay said it has initially confirmed two of the deceased were employees of the group.
The Airport Authority said it is deeply sorry at the incident involving many airport workers. It said it will contact the companies affected to give necessary support and assistance.
Three men and two women were killed in the accident. Three passengers were declared dead at the scene, while another passenger and the taxi driver, who was 59 years in age, were certified dead in hospital.
Thirty-two were injured, with some of them in serious condition.
The injured were sent to Yan Chai Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The 62-year-old coach driver suffered serious injuries and is now in the intensive care unit at hospital.
Some of the passengers in the coach were reportedly thrown out of the vehicle during the collision.
Michael Yip Siu-ming, superintendent of the police’s New Territories South traffic unit, said three coach passengers were thrown out of the vehicle, and the coach driver also fell out from his seat, due to the impact of the collision.
Some of the victims were suspected of not having their seat belts on at the time of the accident.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong and Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan visited the injured at the Princess Margaret Hospital, where many of the victims were undergoing treatment.
The officials spent around 30 minutes at the hospital, making inquiries and wishing the patients speedy recovery.
As of now, 26 among the injured in the bus-taxi crash are still in hospital.
According to Yip, the coach driver’s work shift started at 7 pm Thursday and was due to finish at 7 am the following day. The police will investigate whether the coach driver had been exhausted when driving, he said.
The man had been driving coaches since 2007, and had experience of working on this particular route, Yip said.
Television footage showed the taxi in a mangled mess, with its rear end totally caved in. As for the coach, part of its front was sheared off, media reports said
Following the accident, several airport-bound lanes of Cheung Tsing Highway, near Kam Chuk Kok, were closed temporarily.
Friday’s incident marked the worst road accident in Hong Kong in more than nine months.
On February 10, a KMB double-decker bus flipped in its side while taking a turn on a Tai Po road, killing 19 people and injuring more than 60.
The bus driver was arrested for dangerous driving in the wake of that incident, which was Hong Kong’s deadliest road accident since 2003, when 21 were killed on July 10 that year after a bus fell off a bridge in Tuen Mun following collision with a truck.
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