Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that her government will set up an independent commission of inquiry chaired by a judge to investigate Saturday’s bus crash in Tai Po that left 19 dead and dozens injured.

A KMB double-decker crashed and rolled on to its side on Tai Po Road shortly after 6pm. The driver was arrested for dangerous driving causing death and injury, though the reason for the crash remains unclear.

tai po bus crash
Photo: HKFP.

“I have decided to set up an independent [commission] of inquiry, led by a judge, to make sure that Hong Kong’s public transport system – especially public buses – can become safe and reliable,” Lam told reporters on Saturday night.

“If the independent inquiry reveals certain structural problems or other problems, I hope they will give us some recommendations.”

Commissions of Inquiry are given special powers to investigate materials and summon witnesses over matters of public importance. They have previously been established to probe scandals such as the 2015 discovery of excess lead in drinking water, and accidents such as the 2012 Lamma Island ferry disaster.

“[The government will allocate] a specific social worker to care for every affected family,” added Lam. “I wouldn’t want to force families to go around asking different government departments or civil servants for help while they are so troubled and worried.”

carrie lam legislature
Carrie Lam. File photo: InMedia.

The death toll rose from 18 to 19 at 4am on Sunday morning after one man died from his injuries at United Christian Hospital, reported RTHK.

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KMB has apologised on its Facebook page and changed its profile photo to a black logo: “KMB expresses extreme regret and sadness at this accident, and deeply apologises.” It said that the driver was employed in 2014, and had been involved in another accident that August. The firm will provide HK$80,000 to support affected families and assist with insurance claims

Last September, three people were killed and 31 injured after a Citybus double-decker mounted a kerb in Sham Shui Po. In 2003, 21 died and 20 were injured when a KMB double-decker ploughed through a guardrail and down a hill off Tuen Mun Road after colliding with a truck.

Police have set up a casualty hotline 1878 999 for the public to make enquiries about those injured. 

Elson Tong

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.