World famous chef Heston Blumenthal was still grieving in Hong Kong last night after identifying the bodies of two senior members of his culinary team.
They died along with the driver of their taxi when crushed between two double-decker buses in Shau Kei Wan just before noon on Monday. Blumenthal, who is in town for a private function, was not talking about immediate plans yesterday. But executives of the Mandarin Oriental confirmed that the dead visitors - British citizen Ivan Aranto Herrera Jorge and Swede Carl Magnus Lindgren - were guests of the hotel.
They were both talented young chefs in the Blumenthal lineup.
More insights into the crash, which also left 56 people injured, emerged yesterday.
It started when the driver of a New World First Bus double-decker coming down the hill from Chai Wan lost consciousness. Out of control, it side- swiped a seven-seater vehicle and then slammed into the taxi, crushing it against a KMB bus waiting at traffic lights.
It took emergency workers nearly three hours to extract the bodies of the three men from the wreckage.
And there was word from NWFB of on-board video footage that showed the 57-year-old driver, Lau Chit, unconscious as the bus careened towards tragedy at 11.38am. "The bus hit road barriers after going past the fire station," said William Chung Chak-ma, head of operations for NWFB and associated operator Citybus.
"The driver was unconscious for more than 10 seconds with the bus out of control. Nobody attempted to take control."
Lau had returned to work on Monday after a two-day break, Chung said, and he had passed a medical check in July.
"We are now seeking medical advice on whether drivers aged 50 and above need to have electrocardiogram tests like those of 60 and above," Chung added.
Along with details of the smash came calls for a commission of inquiry into instances of driver blackout.
Police as well as bus operators have investigated other cases, but findings and ideas to prevent similar incidents have not been forthcoming.
Adding to concerns was the revelation that New World First Bus recently told drivers with diabetes to submit detailed medical reports on the severity of their conditions.
Chung Chung-fai, chairman of the NWFB staff union said: "We don't oppose independent inquiries, but they will not prevent drivers from suffering blackouts if there are hidden diseases."
Chung confirmed that the operator issued a circular last month requiring diabetic drivers who were injecting insulin to tell more. "The company admitted that more drivers have been suffering from diabetes in recent years," he said. "So medical advice is needed on whether certain people remain fit to drive."
As the debate about driver fitness continued, so did the grieving for Wong Kim-chung, the driver of the taxi carrying the visiting chefs. Among mourners was a cousin, Wong Ka-po, who said NWFB had contacted the family but there had not yet been talks on compensation.