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62 injured in light rail accident in Hong Kong

(China Daily)

09:45, May 18, 2013

A train derailment injures 62 people in the northwestern satellite town of Tin Shui Wai in Hong Kong on Friday. Photo by Xinhua

Sixty-two people were injured after a light-rail train derailed in the northwestern satellite town of Tin Shui Wai in Hong Kong on Friday afternoon. Despite accusations of speeding, the cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The derailment happened soon after 4 pm on Friday when the two-car train No 761P was rounding a bend near the Hang Mei Tsuen and Tong Fong Tsuen stations in the town.

The front vehicle suffered the most damage — its windscreen was cracked as it hit a pole. A bogie of the front vehicle detached from its bottom part and pushed into the front of the second coach. But neither coach rolled over.

Adding to the first-responders' challenge, twisted metal fragments were scattered all over the vicinity, and high voltage wires dangled over the coaches. The fire department, however, described the rescue mission as smooth.

Most of the 62 casualties suffered only minor cuts or bruises, but four of them were listed as seriously injured.

"Suddenly, there was a lot of bleeding" people, a passenger told Cable TV. She said the tram car seemed to be speeding when it derailed.

But another woman, who said passengers were thrown around inside the coach like bowling pins, did not recall any impression of speeding.

Another woman told TVB that some of the passengers tried to prevent the car from rolling over by asking uninjured passengers to stand on the right side of the coach as it was leaning to the left. About 90 passengers were pulled from the wrecked coach unhurt.

Railway operator MTR Corp's head of operation, Alan Cheng Kwan-hing, told the media that the driver of the derailed train had been in the post for two years. Cheng declined to comment on the cause, which is under police investigation, but he stressed that the design of the track and coaches have been thoroughly tested before.

The speed limit at the track turn was 15 kilometers per hour, and Lo Kwok-keung, a mechanic design specialist at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, estimated after inspecting the damage that the coach might have made the turn at up to 30 km/h. He believes the design is not flawed.

Service of five lines of the light rail remained interrupted as of 9 pm on Friday. Shuttle buses were arranged to fill the service gap.

The light rail, operated by MTR, feeds passengers to the company's West Rail Line by a network that runs through housing estates and suburban neighborhoods in the northwestern New Territories.

As tracks of the light rail are laid alongside motorways, the light rail is subject to a higher rate of road accidents when compared with the city's enclosed mainline rail.

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