Five dead, 32 injured in Hong Kong coach crash

Police walk past a crushed taxi after a coach (back) collided with it in Hong Kong on November 30, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2018
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Five dead, 32 injured in Hong Kong coach crash

  • A coach carrying Cathay Pacific staff to Hong Kong’s airport collided with a taxi
  • The taxi driver, two men and two women coach passengers were killed

HONG KONG: Five people were killed and 32 injured when a coach carrying Cathay Pacific staff to Hong Kong’s airport collided with a taxi on Friday, police said, with passengers thrown from the coach’s windows on impact.
The back half of the taxi was completely crushed and both sides of the bus were damaged with traces of blood on the outside following the crash on the island of Tsing Yi.
Police said the collision had happened in the left lane of the main road — the taxi had stopped with its hazard lights on and the coach plowed into it.
“We believe the taxi was broken down and stopped in the left lane of the road. Around 40 seconds later, a coach hit it from behind,” police superintendent Yip Siu-ming said.
The coach then lost control, Yip added, hitting the right hand side crash barrier and then the left one and throwing three passengers out of the coach. The 62-year-old driver was also hurled from the vehicle and injured.
The taxi driver, two men and two women coach passengers were killed, according to police.
Hong Kong’s hospital authority said one person remained in critical condition and another in serious condition.
The rest of the injured were either stable or had been released from hospital.
Debris including glass and personal belongings was strewn across the main road, which remained closed early Friday.
Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific confirmed “a shuttle bus carrying our employees was involved in a traffic accident this morning.”
“It is a tragic and very sad incident. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who have sadly passed away,” the airline said.


Superintendent Yip said police would look into whether the coach driver — who had been working for 10 hours at the time of the accident — had been tired or affected by alcohol.
“From what we can see, it’s obvious that the driver did not see the broken-down taxi on the road and hit it from behind,” Yip said, adding that his working hours were from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 am.
The Kwoon Chung bus company told local media that the driver had been working for them for 12 years and had not declared any health problems.
Matthew Wong, chairman of the company, said the driver had had enough rest and had taken eight days off in November. He added: “Of course we’ll look into the cause of the accident,” in a telephone interview with TVB.
Tsing Yi is connected by a freeway to Hong Kong International Airport which is located on neighboring Lantau island.
Television footage showed the injured being treated by the side of the road before they were taken to four hospitals.
One coach passenger said the bus had been traveling fast before it crashed into the taxi, according to SCMP.
“It seemed to me that the coach did not slow down. I fell onto the floor (when it crashed),” the passenger said.
A passenger told local television channel TVB the scene on the bus was “very chaotic, we were crushed together.”
Another said “the bus hit once, then hit left and right, and hit the roadside to stop.”
Television footage showed the crash barrier on either side of the road was damaged.
The accident happened at 5:00 am (2100 GMT Thursday) near the exit of a tunnel.
Hong Kong prides itself on having one of the world’s best public transport systems but deadly bus accidents are not unknown.
A speeding double-decker overturned in northern Hong Kong in February, killing 19 people and leaving more than 60 injured. The bus driver was arrested for dangerous driving.
And in 2003 a double-decker bus collided with a truck and plummeted off a bridge, killing 21 people and injuring 20.


Shutdown and protests in Kashmir Valley after custodial death

Indian Kashmiri villagers shout anti-Indian slogans following the death of school teacher Rizwan Assad Pandith, in police custody in Awantipora of Pulwama district, south of Srinagar on March 19, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Shutdown and protests in Kashmir Valley after custodial death

  • Rizwan was one of six siblings and was planning to do a doctorate
  • A police statement said Rizwan had died in police custody and that he had been taken in for a “terror case investigation”

NEW DELHI: There have been protests and a shutdown in Indian-administered Kashmir following a custodial death, as residents warned that local anger over police brutality cannot be contained.

Rizwan Asad Pandit, 29, was declared dead on Tuesday by police after he was picked up late on Sunday night from his home.

His brother, Mubashir, said Rizwan had been taken to an interrogation center known locally as Kashmir’s torture camp.

“Police should tell us what the charges against Rizwan are and why he was killed in this manner,” Mubashir told Arab News.

“I could not look at the body of my brother when I saw it for the first time after his death. There was a cut on his forehead, his thigh was cut open, his eyes have been gouged out, his vital organs were damaged, it was such a gory sight to see.

“These security forces don’t have any human values, human compassion. Who treats a normal human being like this? What crime has Rizwan committed? I want justice for my brother. The whole of Kashmir is shocked by this inhumanity.”

A police statement said Rizwan had died in police custody and that he had been taken in for a “terror case investigation.”

Arab News contacted the inspector general of Jammu and Kashmir, S. P. Pani, but he refused to take questions related to Rizwan’s death.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, which they both claim in full but administer in part, and rebels have been fighting Indian rule for decades, demanding that Indian-controlled Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or established as an independent country.

According to a report from a rights group, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, 2018 was the deadliest year of the past decade in the Kashmir Valley.

It said a total of 586 people were killed in 2018, of which 160 were civilians. The remaining numbers comprised 267 militants and 159 members of the Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir police.

“In Kashmir, custodial killing has become normalized with overlapping tragedies,” Khurram Parvez, a Srinagar-based activist, told Arab News. “The incident has created anger. The issue is that when the prime minister of the country says that he has given free hand to the soldiers, this emboldens the soldier on the ground who feel that he is not accountable to anyone.”

Nobody was saying what the charges were against Rizwan, he added, or who arrested him. He asked what kind of investigation could be expected when basic information was not being provided. 

“The tragedy is that all these killings and human rights violations are escalating tensions among the people. I feel it will further increase the frustration of young people in the valley.”

The valley observed a complete shutdown in response to calls for a strike by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), an alliance of separatist leaders from the area.

There have also been protests since news of the custodial death became public.

Mubashir said that late on Sunday police came to the house and locked family members in one room while separating Rizwan from them. “Then the security personnel seized all our laptops and mobiles and took away Rizwan without telling us what the charges against him were.

“We came to know about his death only through social media. Police didn’t have the courtesy to inform us.”

Rizwan was one of six siblings and was planning to do a doctorate. He was a principal at a local private college and nurtured ambitions to be a professor.

“When you push the Kashmiris to wall, they will also push you back and react. The anger such kind of brutalities create among Kashmiris cannot be easily contained,” Mubashir said.

Dawood Riyaz lost his sight in his left eye following a pellet attack in 2017. He accused the Indian government of being “hell-bent” on destroying the young generation of Kashmiris.

“We are also human. We have the right to dissent. You cannot crush dissent with this level of brutality. Youngsters are really feeling frustrated with the regime in Delhi and its insensitivity,” he told Arab News.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a separatist leader and member of the JRL, said Rizwan’s death exposed the “helplessness, vulnerability, and insecurity” of Kashmiri lives even as the “impunity of authorities” kept rising.

Kashmir’s former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, tweeted: “I had hoped custodial deaths were a thing of our dark past. This is an unacceptable development and must be investigated in a transparent, time-bound manner. Exemplary punishment must be handed out to the killers of this young man.”