SINGAPORE - One person was killed and 16 others were injured after a bus collided into railings at Tuas Checkpoint early on Tuesday morning (Feb 26).
The victim was a 35-year-old female bus passenger and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
The bus driver, 59, has been arrested for causing death by rash act, police said on Tuesday evening.
The accident blocked the heavy vehicle lane from about 4.20am, causing traffic to pile up, as buses and lorries coming from Malaysia towards Singapore were unable to enter the checkpoint. The ICA subsequently closed the lane and the heavy vehicles were turned back to Malaysia.
At one point, motorists were advised to use Woodlands Checkpoint for both arrival and departure instead.
The lane was reopened at about 10am.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said that it responded to a call for assistance at 4.25am. When its officers arrived at the accident scene in Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim, they saw a bus against the side railing of the flyover.
"The bus driver was trapped in his seat and had to be rescued by SCDF using hydraulic rescue equipment," it said.
Its officers also found two women at the foot of the flyover. One of the women suffered serious injuries and the other was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic.
The bus driver and 11 passengers were taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) and National University Hospital (NUH). There were four other passengers assessed with minor injuries and they declined to be taken to hospital.
Four of the accident victims were discharged from NUH, while two remain warded on Tuesday afternoon.
At NTFGH, five of the injured admitted had only minor injuries and were later discharged. One accident victim remains warded but is in stable condition.
A spokesman for technology company HP confirmed that some of its employees were on the bus involved in the accident.
She said: "Our thoughts are with those who were involved, and are doing everything we can to provide assistance to affected employees. We are concurrently working with the authorities to get more information.”
On Wednesday, the HP spokesman confirmed that one of its employees died in the accident.
"Most of the other employees requiring medical treatment have been discharged from hospital. Our focus is on supporting our colleagues and their families in this difficult time," the spokesman added.
"The safety of all employees is our highest priority and we continue to work with our transportation vendor to ensure safety of the vehicles.”
Mr Dia Abdullah, 28, who was heading to Singapore from Malaysia for work on Tuesday morning, told The Straits Times that it took him 1½ hours to clear the checkpoint because of the traffic jam. It would usually take about 30 minutes at 5.30am, he said.
The operations executive said: “The traffic is usually clear for cars at that time but we were not able to move, as they stopped us and were allowing buses and lorries to make a U-turn back to Malaysia.”
As he passed through the checkpoint, he saw that barricades had been set up in the heavy vehicle lane and there were no vehicles in the lane.
One of the victims, a 22-year-old female employee, suffered head injuries during the accident.
Her brother, Mr Zhang, 30, told Chinese-language paper Lianhe Wanbao that his sister told him she was in the hospital over the phone around 7am on Tuesday, and will probably need to be hospitalised for further monitoring.
"I was shocked and rushed to the hospital to check on her. Based on what I know, her arm was injured, and there might be bleeding in her brain," Mr Zhang said.
His sister has been working in Singapore's HP office for over a month, he added.
Another victim, Ms Vani, 43, who is understood to be an employee of HP, was sitting in the middle of the bus when the accident occurred.
"Everyone was sleeping when it happened, and we were woken by a strong impact. My arms and legs were hurting, and it was very chaotic," Ms Vani told Wanbao.
The bus appeared to have braking issues before it hit the railing on the road, she said, adding that many people were cut by broken glass pieces which were scattered about.
Ms Vani was discharged after receiving treatment from NTFGH, and given two weeks of medical leave.
Police are investigating the incident.
In October 2018, a 35-year-old motorcyclist died in an accident with two other motorcycles at the Woodlands Checkpoint. The accident occurred at about 5.30am and left three others injured.
In June 2018, two died and three were injured in a traffic accident involving a trailer, lorry and three motorcycles at the Causeway. A 30-year-old trailer driver was arrested then for suspected drink driving, while a 23-year-old lorry driver, who was one of the injured, was arrested for allegedly causing death by rash act.
Additional reporting by Jev Akshay Jeevan