AT least 18 people were killed and 62 injured Saturday after a double-decker bus overturned in China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
Authorities said 10 of the injured were in critical condition and 15 were seriously wounded.
Police said the 30-year-old driver was arrested.
Most of the injured and bodies of the deceased were found on the upper deck of the bus, and the deceased mostly died of trauma to the head, rescuers said.
The accident happened at around 6:15 p.m., when a bus on its way to Tai Po from Shatin racecourse toppled to its left on Tai Po Road, New Territories, destroying a bus station on roadside.
Police told Xinhua earlier that 19 people were killed but the death toll was later revised down to 18.
Most of the passengers were horse racing fans, as the bus was travelling on a special route for horse racing days.
The bus had been running at high speed before the accident, according to some of the passengers.
Rescuers cut open the top of the bus to save the passengers trapped inside.
The injured have been rushed to hospitals, while the site of the accident has been cordoned off.
Godwin So Wai-kei, general manager of Kowloon Motor Bus Co. Ltd. which the bus belongs to, said the company will offer 80,000 HK dollars (US$10,256) as a condolence allowance for the families of each victim.
The driver of the bus joined the company in 2014. So far there is no sign of fatigued driving when the accident occurred, said the general manager.
Speaking to reporters after visiting the injured in the Prince of Wales Hospital, HKSAR Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she will order an independent inquiry to see whether there are any systemic problems with Hong Kong’s bus operations.
She said the commission will be headed by a judge and she expected it to come up with suggestions to ensure that Hong Kong’s public transport system is reliable and safe.
Lam said the government is “deeply grieved” by the accident.
Various hospitals have set up emergency support stations to help families of the deceased and each affected family will receive support from social workers, she said.
Various charity groups have announced to offer emergent financial help to the victims’ families.
Many Hong Kong citizens also voluntarily donated blood to the injured yesterday.
The Central Government on Saturday sent a letter expressing condolence and sympathy to the families of the victims.
“We feel deep grief over the severe traffic accident,” read the letter sent by the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.
“We noticed that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has taken emergency measures to rescue the injured with all available resources and deal with relevant issues,” it said.