World News

Runaway Bus With No Driver Careens Through Hong Kong Intersection

Posted December 10, 2018 9:28 a.m. EST

HONG KONG — At least four people were killed and 11 more injured Monday when an out-of-control school bus rolled down a Hong Kong street after the driver had exited the vehicle.

Video footage taken by another vehicle’s dashboard camera and spread widely across social media shows the driver leaving the bus after parking it along a sloped street in the North Point district. The bus immediately begins moving downhill and the man runs in front of it to stop it.

The footage shows the bus rolling over the driver, dragging him about 20 yards, then grazing a taxi and appearing to pick up speed as it heads toward an intersection with King’s Road, one of the city’s main arteries.

The bus traveled about 100 more yards, striking more pedestrians and crossing King’s Road before crashing into a storefront. Four people were trapped underneath the vehicle, Hong Kong police said.

An 80-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene and three more people — a 70-year-old woman and two men, ages 83 and 77 — died in the hospital, police said. The bus driver, 62, survived but sustained head, neck and back injuries. Others among the injured had major fractures.

Police said that a firefighter at the scene discovered that the bus’s parking brake had not been properly set. Investigators had yet to determine whether the driver forgot to set the brake or set it improperly, or if it was mechanical failure.

The police said that the bus driver had completed two short shifts in the morning and had been preparing to hand over duties to another driver.

The long working hours of many bus drivers have been a safety concern in recent months in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese city known for safe and efficient public transportation.

Bus drivers in Hong Kong are typically limited to driving a maximum of 10 hours a day, according to government guidelines. That was reduced from 11 hours a day after the February crash of a double-decker bus that killed 18 people and injured more than 60.

Last week, five people were killed and 32 injured when a bus carrying Cathay Pacific airline employees to Hong Kong International Airport collided with a taxi.

Many bus drivers in Hong Kong have called for higher wages and fewer driving hours, saying they felt obliged to drive overtime to compensate for low base salaries, which are usually between $1,500 and $2,100 a month.