Monday, May 27, 2013

My First Train Crash

On Friday, May 17 an MTR light rail train crashed. It was the worst derailment in MTR history. 77 people were injured – including a baby. Fortunately, no one was killed. Unfortunately, I was on that train.

I had a rare Friday off from work, so I wanted to go out to the New Territories and look around. I don’t get out there as much as I’d like to. There’s really a lot more to Hong Kong than the giant skyscrapers. There is a lot of nature & scenery, but you have to get out of the city to find it.

While I was minding my own business on a small train on a small line, it seemed like the train was moving too fast. It’s above ground, so you can see everything go by. It’s hard to judge speeds on the underground trains because you can’t see anything except black tunnels. On this train, we could tell that it was going too fast. I wasn’t the only passenger who thought so.

Then it made a turn and all hell broke loose. The front car slowed down for the turn – although I guess it didn’t slow down enough. The back car didn’t slow down at all and there was a lot of noise – metal crashing into metal, screaming, glass shattering.

The train left the tracks and hit a power line. It didn’t flip over, but it was like a car impact. Everybody fell to the ground or up against the windows. More than half of the passengers were injured. Most of them were minor. I broke a few bones in my right hand when I tried not to fall down.

Fortunately, it was a smaller train in the New Territories – where there isn’t as much traffic. Being above ground was also a very good thing. Everyone simply walked or crawled or was carried out of the train – paying special attention to downed power lines. If it had been in a tunnel, it would have been much more difficult to get everyone out.

Everyone just sat near the train and waited. I don’t know if people were in shock, but it was quieter than I would have expected. Then the firefighters & paramedics showed up and it got loud & hectic again. It didn’t take long for the news cameras and onlookers to show up. Pretty soon there were at least 10 times more people than were on the train. I saw more firefighter uniforms than passengers.

A few paramedics asked me if I was ok. They didn’t speak much English and my Chinese doesn’t include emergency medical terms. It was obvious the way I was holding my hand that it was injured, and when one of the paramedics grabbed at it, I let out a scream that pretty much told them all they needed to know. They put me in an ambulance after all of the unconscious and bleeding passengers were gone. The doctors at the hospital all spoke English, so it got easier for me once I was there.

When they showed me the x-rays of my hand, I was just happy it wasn’t my foot. I like having hands and I use them a lot, but I need my feet for my career. If it was a foot instead of my hand, my dancing days would probably be over.

My hand is a lot better than it was, but I’m still mostly typing this with my left hand. Since it’s gotten better than it was, the doctors assume it will get better than it is. I’m very thankful to be in a place that has excellent healthcare at very low prices. Hong Kong has very well trained doctors and my insurance pays for almost everything.

The government is thinking about fining the MTR HK$15 million. Now they’re talking about a big lawsuit against the MTR. I don’t know any details, but I’m sure if it happens, the passengers won’t see any money.

I don’t want their money anyway. I just want them to figure out what happened, fix it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. We were all pretty lucky this time. Next time, it could be a lot worse.

4 comments:

  1. wow, glad your ok.

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  2. was wondering why there weren't updates in ages! Glad to hear its not super serious

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  3. I'm ok. There were a quite a few people who were worse off. From what I understand, everyone is getting better now.

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