Police have arrested a KMB bus driver following a crash on Wednesday that killed six and injured 39.

The 56-year-old was arrested for dangerous driving causing death. Police said that the KMB 978 bus was travelling along Fanling Highway to Sheung Shui at around 4:20pm when it lost control and rammed into barriers and trees.

Photo: Police handout.

The upper deck of the bus was sliced open and two passengers were thrown out of the vehicle on impact, police said. Five people were certified dead at the scene and another woman died from her injuries after being rushed to North District Hospital.

Police said the cause of the crash was unclear, and they will look into the driver’s physical condition, driving attitude, road conditions, and vehicle performance as part of their investigation. The driver had passed a breathalyser test, and no skid marks were found at the scene of the incident.

Bus operator KMB said that the driver had been employed for 18 years, and passed a body check in September. He had no previous record of traffic accidents except a minor collision at a bus depot in 2017.

KMB Safety Director Kwan Chi-wai said the driver was well-rested since he was off duty the day before the crash, and the accident had nothing to do with a manpower shortage. The driver had been driving the Wan Chai-to-Fanling route for two years, and the crash happened during the final trip of his shift.

Photo: Police handout.

Kwan said he had no information yet on whether the crash was caused by speeding or involved other vehicles. The bus operator will conduct an internal investigation and cooperate with police, he added.

The Transport Department has also requested an investigation report from KMB, and expressed “deep concern” over the incident.

Assistant Commissioner of the Transport Department Patrick Wong said on Thursday that no risk assessment had been made for route 978, and that his department will request risk assessment reports for all bus routes within the coming year.

Lam visits victims

Chief Executive Carrie Lam visited the injured passengers – who were between 3 and 74 – at North District Hospital on Wednesday night, and expressed shock and sadness at the crash.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam visiting those hospitalised in the bus crash.

“We will assign a social worker to each of the bereaved families to give them support, including for funereal services, economic assistance, counselling and emotional support,” Lam said.

Lam said the government tried to implement 45 recommendations – such as making sure all bus seats had seatbelts – to enhance safety in the aftermath of a fatal bus crash in Tai Po last February.

The recurrence of serious bus crashes might mean looking into whether those recommendations could be strengthened, she said.

Photo: Stand News.

On Thursday morning, the Hospital Authority said that 13 people were still hospitalised with five of them in a serious condition, and the rest of them in a stable condition.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung confirmed that one of the deceased was an employee of the Social Welfare Department.

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Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.