Updated: 62 injured in Hong Kong light railway accident

HONG KONG (AFP) - Over 60 people were injured when a two-car train derailed on Hong Kong’s light railway in the north of the city, throwing passengers onto the floor.

Groups of passengers sat dazed on the pavement near where the train derailed, some bleeding and being treated by medics. Others were taken away on stretchers by paramedics, television news footage showed.

Three people who were seriously injured have already been taken to hospital according to state-run broadcaster RTHK.

“It was driving too fast,” a female passenger told Cable TV News adding that the train lost control when it was making a turn. “It was very chaotic inside the train, there was some blood,” she said.

“All the passengers fell flat on the floor,” a young boy told the channel. 

“It was like a ball game where everybody was bouncing around...we didn’t even know what happened and then we all fell onto the floor,” another passenger told the channel.

Footage showed the derailed train with its front car angled to one side with a smashed windscreen.

“There was a derailment on the light rail,” a police spokeswoman told AFP,  confirming that 62 people were injured.

Police said the incident happened in the early afternoon at the Tong Fong Tsuen stop in the rural Tin Shui Wai  district of the city.

The Hong Kong Light Railway is part of the city’s complex public transport  system of trams, buses and underground metros.  The light rail links 68 stops along 36 km of track in the northwestern New Territories, a semi-rural region in the north of Hong Kong.

Its single-decker cars, which can take around 200 passengers, are connected  to overhead electric cables and run along tracks on the streets which also branch off into the surrounding countryside.

Accidents are rare on the southern Chinese city’s public transport system,  which it promotes as one of the best infrastructures in the world. But the safety of Hong Kong’s waterways has remained under scrutiny since 39 people were killed when a high-speed ferry and a pleasure boat crashed, in the worst maritime accident the city had seen in 40 years in October.

A report into the incident near Lamma Island found a “litany of errors” contributed to the crash and slammed the city’s marine department for “systemic failings” in safety standards.

In November two chefs who worked at top British chef Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck restaurant were killed in Hong Kong when their taxi was crushed between two buses.

And in December, 24 people were injured, four seriously, after a bus collided with a coach near Hong Kong International Airport.