HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- A tour bus lost control going down a hill and flipped over Thursday in Hong Kong, killing 18 members of a local Christian group and injuring 44 others. The driver was arrested on charges of dangerous driving.
Local TV reports showed mostly elderly passengers covered in blood and wincing in pain as they were being pulled from the battered bus.
The vehicle's windows were shattered and it was leaning against a road barrier in the suburban district of Sai Kung.
"The driver kept turning the steering wheel, then he just crashed," one passenger wearing a bloodstained white shirt told Hong Kong Cable TV. "The bus was going down the hill. It was pretty fast."
Eighteen passengers died, said Ho Chak-kan, acting police superintendent.
"From the information we've collected at this stage, the deaths of these persons probably resulted from dangerous driving," Ho said.
But Hong Kong Cable TV quoted the driver, who was among the injured, as saying the brakes failed before the accident.
The bus was carrying 61 passengers on a May Day outing by the Christian group when it lost control going down the hill. It smashed into a light post before flipping over, Ho said.
Police initially said the vehicle was overcrowded, but later corrected themselves, saying its capacity was 61.
Fire official Li Hung-sam told reporters the roof of the bus collapsed, hindering rescue efforts.
Most of the victims were critically injured, with head injuries, severe bleeding and broken bones, Li said. Most of those who died were women, he added.
It was the city's worst traffic accident since a double-decker bus crash killed 21 people in 2003. E-mail to a friend