A charter bus carrying hosted buyers attending the Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings expo (AIME) in Melbourne yesterday slammed into a light-rail bridge in the city’s south, smashing the whole front and roof of the bus in and trapping four passengers and injuring 11 others.
Firefighters took nearly an hour to free four people trapped on the bus, cutting them from the wreckage.
Pictures show the bridge is very low, clearly too low for the bus, but the vehicle showed no sign of slowing before impact, witnesses said. The bridge has a “low clearance” sign on it.
The AIME delegates on the bus had been touring local Melbourne landmarks and venues. They were due to return to the Melbourne Convention Centre for an AIME lunch, hosted by Tourism Australia and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) chief executive, Karen Bollinger, took to the stage at the lunch to break news of the crash to other delegates, giving an early outline of the incident. She said all aboard had been taken to hospital and counselling would be made available for all passengers on the bus.
Melbourne’s Age newspaper reported witnesses saying passengers could “do little but duck their heads and close their eyes” as the vehicle, part of the Gold Bus Ballarat fleet, slammed into the Montague Street bridge about 10.40am.
None of the 15 people aboard suffered life-threatening injuries. The bus driver was taken away on a stretcher with cuts to his face and legs, and most of his passengers suffered cuts and bruises. Some were taken from the scene on stretchers with braces around their necks.
Written by Peter Needham at AIME, Melbourne