15 killed in NYC tour bus accident

Updated: 2011-03-13 07:22


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15 killed in NYC tour bus accident
A general view of a bus crash is seen on Interstate 95 in New York in this still image taken from video March 12, 2011. [Photo/Agencies] 

NEW YORK - A deadly New York City (NYC) tour bus accident took place early Saturday morning has claimed 15 lives, and many of the victims are of Chinese descent, local authorities confirmed.

Thirteen people were killed on the scene, and two passengers died from injuries at hospital on Saturday afternoon, New York City Fire Department said, according to local TV station NY1.    

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said earlier at an on-site press briefing that "13 people were killed and others are badly hurt" when a bus returning to the city from a casino overturned on a highway.    

The accident took place at the New England Thruway in the Bronx near the Westchester County line at about 5:30 am local time (1030 GMT).

The Worldwide Tour bus, carrying 32 passengers, skidded and hit a sign pole on Interstate 95 at Exit 14 for the Hutchinson Parkway. The sign post sheared off the bus top along the window line.

The bus left the Mohegan Sun Casino, a southern Connecticut gambling complex, at about 3:45 am local time (0845 GMT) and was heading to Chinatown in Manhattan, according to police authorities.

Authorities said police began a hunt for the driver of a tractor trailer, which may have made contact with the bus moments before the crash. The tractor trailer did not stop after the accident.

Kelly told reporters that it is undetermined whether the bus was hit by the tractor trailer or whether the bus driver, upon seeing the tractor trailer, began to swerve himself.  

Kelly said the victims ranged in age from 20 to 50. Counselors and police who speak Mandarin and Cantonese are on the scene.

The bus driver, who survived the crash, told police that a tractor trailer clipped the bus from the behind and fled away.

At the Jacobi Medical Center, where most injured victims were treated, Xinhua correspondents saw many Chinese coming to seek information of their family members. A young Chinese woman told Xinhua in a sad voice that her parents-in-law were just on the bus, and she hasn't got any word about them so far.

Chinese Consul General Peng Keyu told reporters at the Jacobi Medical Center that the Consulate General in New York has sent working parties to hospitals and has maintained close contact with the city mayor office.

"This is an unfortunate incident," said Peng. "We are very sad no matter whether the victims are Chinese or Americans."

Bloomberg said in the statement that a Family Assistance Center has been set up to provide family members with information regarding their loved ones. Authorities have also brought in Chinese translators to help assist the families.

Family members and others impacted by this accident should call 311 to get information about assistance and services, said the statement.

"The New York State Police is leading the investigation into the accident's circumstances, with the NYPD and FDNY assisting in making rescues and providing other support. Our prayers and sympathies are with the victims of this terrible tragedy and their families and friends," it said.


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