A five-car pile-up near the Tseung Kwan O Tunnel in Hong Kong has left 87 people – including dozens of students – injured. The accident was caused by “careless lane changing” by a taxi driver, a police preliminary probe found.

Four coaches and a medium-sized truck collided into each other at around noon on Friday on Tseung Kwan O Tunnel Road near the tunnel’s Kwun Tong entrance. A total of 87 people were injured, with a driver sustaining a bone fracture in his arm. Others mainly saw scratches on their arms and legs, the Fire Service Department said.

Tseung Kwan O crash
A five-vehicle pile-up near Tseung Kwan O Tunnel on March 24, 2023. Photos: Facebook.

Over 100 firefighters and ambulance personnel were deployed to evacuate a total of 244 people from the vehicles over the course of around 65 minutes. A coach driver was stuck and rescue personnel used around 40 minutes to remove him from the vehicle. Those injured were sent to eight hospitals for treatment.

According to the police, the accident took place after a minibus slowed down to allow a taxi to switch lanes from a branch of the Kwun Tong Bypass to the Tseung Kwan O Road. The coach behind the minibus did not slow down in time and crashed into the back of the minibus, causing the pile-up.

A police preliminary investigation showed that none of the five collided vehicles had been speeding, while all five drivers passed a breathalyser test.

“The accident is mainly caused by the careless lane changing [move] by a taxi. The other vehicles could not stop in time, causing the collision,” said senior inspector Lee Pok-kit of the police Traffic Kowloon East unit.

Shen Chuen, commander of the Lam Tin Fire Station, said the rescue operation was challenging because the accident took place on a very busy highway. Three of the coaches carried children, while the remaining one carried a tour group consisting of elderly people.

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“This accident involved a lot of young kids and another group of elderly people on the four coaches. It takes a lot of manpower for our department to take care of them all. We need to calm them down after the traffic accident,” Shen said.

The three vehicles carried around 180 primary three and four students and teachers, S.K.H. Tak Tin Lee Shiu Keung Primary School confirmed in a statement on Friday. The crash happened when the students were returning to school from an outing at Wu Kwai Sha Youth Village in Ma On Shan, which involved around 1,000 students, teachers and parent volunteers, the Lam Tin-based school said.

Around 10 students were hurt, with injuries on their faces and hands, while 20 students were feeling unwell, the school said. They were examined by first aid personnel at the scene and sent to hospital for examination. Vehicles were arranged to send those who were not injured back to school.

“The school has activated a crisis response team to handle the incident, but the specific details of what happened still require further investigation by the police,” the statement read.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.