2018 Hong Kong bus accident

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2018 Hong Kong bus accident
TaiPoRoad BusFlip Accident.jpeg
Accident scene on 10 February 2018
Details
Date 10 February 2018
Time 18:13 HKT
Location Tai Po Mei, Tai Po Road
New Territories, Hong Kong
Bus route or line 872
Bus operator Kowloon Motor Bus
Type of incident Rollover
Statistics
Deaths 19
Injuries 65
The bus involved, photographed about half an hour prior to the accident
Map of the accident site
Crash site after the wreck was removed

On 10 February 2018, at approximately 18:13 HKT, a Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) double-decker bus flipped onto its side on Tai Po Road in the New Territories, Hong Kong. The crash killed 19 people and injured 65.

The incident was Hong Kong's second deadliest road traffic accident, behind a 2003 incident on Tuen Mun Road which killed 21.[1]

Incident[edit]

Crash[edit]

The Volvo Super Olympian bus (Wright Explorer bodied, fleet number AVW78, registration number LX 9991) was running on route 872, a special route operated only on horse racing days. It was travelling from Sha Tin Racecourse, following a race day, to Tai Po Centre in Tai Po New Town.[2]

Before boarding the bus, the driver chatted with a bus fan for some time.[3] It was reported that the bus departed the racecourse 10 minutes late, leading some passengers to scold and quarrel with the driver.[4][5][3] Passengers said the driver then became frustrated, and "drove really fast as if he was throwing a tantrum". They said he drove "very, very fast" the whole time, without slowing for turns.[4][6]

As the bus was travelling on a downhill section of Tai Po Road, near Tai Po Mei village, it came to a bend where it flipped onto its left side, hitting a lamp post and destroying Tai Po Mei bus stop.[7][8] Eighteen people were killed at the scene.

Immediate aftermath[edit]

Immediately after the crash, some passengers tried to physically attack the driver.[4][9] Fire services officers had to cut into the bus to rescue those trapped inside, an operation that took about 85 minutes.[5] A makeshift morgue was set up at the roadside.[4]

The death toll rose to 19 when a man died at 4:00 am the following morning at United Christian Hospital.[10] Excluding this person, the accident left 65 people injured.[11]

The affected section of Tai Po Road was closed for 12 hours following the incident. Other bus routes normally plying the route were diverted to Tolo Highway. The road was partly closed again the following afternoon to accommodate a ceremony attended by about 200 mourners, government officials, and KMB management.[12][8]

Response[edit]

Kowloon Motor Bus[edit]

The bus company posted on their Facebook page: "KMB expresses extreme regret and sadness at this accident, and deeply apologises."[13] The company said it would give HK$80,000 to every affected family, and would form a committee to investigate the accident.[14]

On 15 February 2018, in response to concerns raised by trade unions and the public (see below), KMB announced that it had ceasing giving shifts to part-time drivers who worked fewer than 18 hours per week. This comprises about 209 of around 360 part-time drivers.[15] It also said it had suspended the hiring of new part-time drivers.[16]

Hong Kong government[edit]

On the night of the accident, chief executive Carrie Lam visited victims at the Prince of Wales Hospital and announced that a separate commission of inquiry, led by a judge, would be set up to investigate the safety of the public transport system, in particular, of the public buses.[10][2][17] She also said that relatives of the dead would each receive $300,000, while the injured would receive between $150,000 and $250,000 each. These funds have been provided by various charitable organisations including the Jockey Club, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, Yan Chai Hospital, and Pok Oi Hospital.[14]

The government also announced that flags would be flown at half-mast, and the annual Lunar New Year fireworks over Victoria Harbour, scheduled for 17 February, would be cancelled in an expression of grief.[18]

Unions[edit]

The day after the crash, the Motor Transport Workers General Union (affiliated with the Federation of Trade Unions) held a press conference to criticise working conditions at KMB. They said that poor pay has led to a shortage of drivers, and alleged that drivers are not provided enough training nor permitted sufficient rest. Similarly, the Confederation of Trade Unions picketed the company's headquarters in protest of alleged low salaries.[11] Kwok Wai-kwong, chairman of the KMB Staff Union, criticised the company's practice of hiring part-time drivers. He characterised them as amateurish, and said the company required they only train for two days (while full time drivers must complete 18 days of training).[19][20]

Public[edit]

The day following the crash, there were hours-long queues at Hong Kong Red Cross blood donation centres as thousands of Hongkongers sought to help those injured in the accident. The Causeway Bay Donor Centre extended its operating hours to accommodate the queue.[21][22] The Red Cross announced that it would keep 12 blood donation centres open through the Lunar New Year holiday.[23]

Driver[edit]

A KMB manager stated that the 30-year-old bus captain, Chan Ho-ming, had been employed with the company since 2014.[13][24][20] He survived the accident and was arrested for dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm. The company initially said he had a "good driving record", had driven the route before, and had received enough rest before his shift.[14] Media reported that the driver worked part time since 2017 and was not assigned to a specific route. Rather, it was reported that he ordinarily worked on Saturdays and Sundays driving special routes.[25][20]

Contradicting KMB's claim that the driver possessed a good safety record, media alleged that he had been at the helm of another KMB bus that crashed in Kwai Chung on 2 August 2014. While making a turn at speed, his Dennis Trident 3 double-decker was seriously damaged after it slammed into kerbside railings and a structural column in the bus terminus at Kwai Fong station.[26] A passenger and a pedestrian were injured.[3] KMB subsequently admitted that he had been involved in this accident. He was convicted of careless driving, had driving offence points deducted, and had been fined. The company afterward deemed him fit to continue working.[19][20]

Chan, the driver, has been reported to be a bus fan active on online bus enthusiast communities. A friend stated that Chan possessed a "bad driving attitude".[3] In addition to the dangerous driving charges, police are exploring the possibility of charging him with manslaughter.[27]

The driver appeared at the Fanling Magistrates' Court on 13 February 2018. He did not enter a plea, was denied bail, and was remanded in custody. His case was adjourned until April.[28]

Investigation[edit]

A view of the downhill approach to the crash site

Immediately following the crash, passengers told local media that the driver was exceeding the speed limit.[29] The police said they also suspected that the bus was speeding.[5] They said the driver was not drink-driving.[4]

A passenger on the bus stated that "he felt as if the bus was travelling at 80 to 100 kilometres per hour (50 to 62 mph)". Investigator Lo Kok-keung estimated the bus entered the bend at up to 68 km/h (42 mph), and said a safe travelling speed for the turn would be 30 to 50 km/h (19 to 31 mph).[12][8]

The wrecked bus was removed from the site on the morning of 11 February and was transported to Tai Lam Chung for examination. The police said that the investigation would cover the speed, the mechanical condition of the bus, and the psychological state of the driver.[5] The accident is being investigated by the Regional Crime Unit, New Territories North.[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hong Kong bus overturns, killing at least 19 people". The Guardian. Agence-France Presse. 10 February 2018. 
  2. ^ a b Ramzy, Austin (10 February 2018). "Hong Kong Bus Crash Kills at Least 18 and Injures Over 60". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b c d Cheung, Jane (12 February 2018). "Part-time driver an avid bus fan". The Standard. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Chan, Riley (12 February 2018). "Passenger tells of high-speed tantrum". The Standard. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Experts to examine wreckage from fatal bus crash". RTHK. 11 February 2018. 
  6. ^ Leung, Rachel; Yeung, Raymond (11 February 2018). "Passengers claim bus driver was 'throwing a tantrum' before horrific Tai Po crash". South China Morning Post. 
  7. ^ "【大埔公路翻九巴】872出事前最後照片 車長口罩開工未覺有異樣". HK01. 10 February 2018. 
  8. ^ a b c "Lam vows judge-led probe after Tai Po bus crash claims 19 lives". Hong Kong Economic Journal. 12 February 2018. 
  9. ^ Yau, Cannix (12 February 2018). "Hong Kong bus passengers furious with driver moments after deadly crash, witness claims". South China Morning Post. 
  10. ^ a b Tong, Elson (11 February 2018). "Tai Po bus crash: Hong Kong gov't to set up inquiry as death toll rises to 19". Hong Kong Free Press. 
  11. ^ a b "Union slams KMB working conditions". RTHK. 11 February 2018. 
  12. ^ a b Lau, Chris; Kao, Ernest; Leung, Rachel; Su, Xinqi (11 February 2018). "Hong Kong bus crash survivor describes horror of accident that killed 19 people". South China Morning Post. 
  13. ^ a b Grundy, Tom; Lai, Catherine (10 February 2018). "19 killed, over 60 injured in Hong Kong double-decker bus crash". Hong Kong Free Press. 
  14. ^ a b c "Fatal KMB bus crash is the worst in 15 years". RTHK. 10 February 2018. 
  15. ^ Cheng, Kris (16 February 2018). "Part-time driver in fatal Hong Kong bus crash did not drive route in training, KMB admits". Hong Kong Free Press. 
  16. ^ "KMB drops part-time drivers after crash outcry". RTHK. 15 February 2018. 
  17. ^ "Judge to head inquiry into fatal bus accident: CE". RTHK. 10 February 2018. 
  18. ^ Grundy, Tom (12 February 2018). "Hong Kong cancels New Year fireworks, flags to fly at half-mast as city mourns fatal bus crash victims". Hong Kong Free Press. 
  19. ^ a b "九巴改口認車禍兼職車長曾不小心駕駛". Hong Kong Economic Times. 11 February 2018. 
  20. ^ a b c d Lai, Catherine (12 February 2018). "Driver in fatal Tai Po double-decker crash was previously convicted of dangerous driving". Hong Kong Free Press. 
  21. ^ Mok, Danny (11 February 2018). "Blood donors flood Red Cross centres in Hong Kong to help 40 injured victims of fatal bus crash". South China Morning Post. 
  22. ^ Sum, Lok-kei (12 February 2018). "Over 1,000 people queue to give blood". The Standard. 
  23. ^ Sum, Lok-kei (13 February 2018). "'Keep giving' call as blood donors set a new record". The Standard. 
  24. ^ Ma, Mary (12 February 2018). "Time to take high road on safety". The Standard. 
  25. ^ "【大埔翻巴士】乘客埋怨遲到10分鐘 疑車長發難狂掟彎". Apple Daily. 10 February 2018. 
  26. ^ "【九巴翻側】司機疑曾涉葵芳車禍 昨上班戴口罩". Headline Daily. 11 February 2018. 
  27. ^ Chan, Riley; Sum, Lok Kei; Wong, Stella (12 February 2018). "Driven to grief". The Standard. 
  28. ^ "Bus driver in Tai Po bus crash remanded". The Standard. 13 April 2018. 
  29. ^ Ducharme, Jamie (10 February 2018). "18 Killed in Hong Kong's Deadliest Bus Accident in More Than a Decade". Time. 
  30. ^ "Fatal traffic accident in Tai Po". Hong Kong Government. 11 February 2018. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°25′12″N 114°11′46″E / 22.4201°N 114.1960°E / 22.4201; 114.1960