Firefighters had to free passengers trapped on a double-decker bus which overturned in the morning rush-hour today after a collision with a lorry.
The driver of the C3 bus was one of five people seriously hurt after the incident at around 8.30am in Clapham Junction, south London.
Police said the male driver of the lorry was arrested and is in custody at a south London police station.
The lorry was carrying railway track, which apparently smashed through the windows of the bus upon impact.
Three of the passengers were cut free by firefighters from Battersea and Wandsworth.
Police said that as well as the four passengers and the driver who had been seriously injured, a further 13 needed hospital treatment for minor injuries out of the 30 or so passengers on the bus.
Among the seriously injured was a 45-year old man, a-27-year-old woman and a third victim, aged 30, who were rushed to hospital after the crash.
Investment banker Rory Withfield, 31, who was on board the bus, told the BBC website: ‘I was standing near the front of the bus when I saw the truck approaching. It was carrying metal pylons which struck the bus and were ripping the side of it.’
Mr Withfield said the bus then mounted the pavement and toppled over.
He went on: ‘People were screaming and everyone’s bags were falling down one side. After it fell over everything was quiet as everyone had realised what had happened.
‘There were one or two people trying to help the rest. The driver seemed unconscious but he came to. We were stuck in there until the emergency services arrived.’
Police closed off the scene in Plough Road following the smash at the junction with St John’s Hill, which happened just yards from a primary school. No children were believed to be on board.
Eutan Jones, who manages a Caribbean cafe nearby, said: ‘Everyone was crying out and shouting.
‘They were cutting people out from the top of the bus, they cut the front of the bus off.
‘I saw six or seven people taken away by ambulances. There was a lady who wasn’t moving – I heard paramedics say she had hurt her spine. She looked smashed up a bit.
‘The driver looked dead because he was just lying there not moving. They took the lorry driver away, but I don’t think he was injured.
‘I didn’t see any children, but there must have been because it was an early bus and they would have been going to school.
‘It was a railway lorry coming out of the rail depot. I think it hit the bus. There used to be a lot of accidents up here, but it is not too bad now.’
Barry Douglas, a chef, said: ‘I heard a noise, it was a big bang and then I saw people running around making phone calls.
‘As I came out people looked shocked and were saying ‘I can’t believe it’. I saw people trying to get off the bus, but others just froze.
A local 45-year-old mother-of-two, who declined to give her name, said: ‘I heard the ambulances going by and went down the road to see what had happened.
‘I saw a lady on a stretcher being put into an ambulance and I was crying because I don’t like to see things like that. I’ve never seen anything like this before.’
The bus was taken away a few hours after the crash. Some of its upper windows were smashed and it seemed to be gouged on the side.
The lorry was still there at that time and some streets remained cordoned off.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘The air ambulance and London Ambulance Service attended.
‘Four passengers and the bus driver were taken to hospital by land ambulance suffering serious injuries. A further 13 people have been taken to hospital with minor injuries.
‘Officers from the Collision Investigation Unit at Hampton are investigating.
‘The male driver of the lorry has been arrested in connection with the incident and is currently in custody at a south London police station.
‘The scene is likely to remain cordoned off for some time. We advise motorists to avoid the area and take alternative routes.’
The C3, run by the Abellio company, operates between Earl’s Court and Clapham Junction.
Transport for London said there would be a full investigation into the incident.