By Gina Cherelus
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three people were killed and at least 16 injured when a New York City transit bus and a tour bus collided early on Monday in the city's borough of Queens, spinning around before slamming into a building, fire officials said.
Firefighters pulled passengers from the wreckage after the city bus collided with a Dahlia tour bus in the Flushing neighborhood shortly after 6 a.m. EDT (1000 GMT), according to the New York City Fire Department.
Authorities said speed may have been a factor in the crash.
"As you have observed, these buses spun around. That requires an enormous amount of speed," Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota said at a news conference. "The MTA driver is in the hospital in a non-critical condition and he is being spoken to right now by investigators."
The tour bus was traveling east on Northern Boulevard when the city bus, which was carrying 15 passengers, tried to make a right turn on the same street, police said. It was not clear how many passengers were on the tour bus.
Photos posted online by the fire department showed the two buses had slammed into the corner of a Kennedy Fried Chicken restaurant, causing a small fire that firefighters extinguished shortly after the crash.
One unidentified bystander was pinned beneath the wreckage and died at the scene. The driver of the tour bus and a passenger in one of the buses were later pronounced dead at area hospitals, according to police spokeswoman Juanita Holmes.
The remaining victims suffered injuries ranging from critical to minor.
The MTA, fire and police departments were investigating the accident, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at the news briefing. The National Transportation Safety Board said in a post on Twitter that it would be sending a team to New York City to investigate the crash.
"Hard to compare to anything I’ve ever seen," de Blasio said. "We don't know enough yet about the specific details. We do not yet have a reliable videotape to work from."
A representative from Flushing-based Dahlia Group Inc., a private tour bus company, declined to comment.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)