Friday, August 18, 2017

At least six dead in Mandalay train crash

Six people were killed and 15 injured last week when a Bagan-bound train collided with a truck at a level crossing in Tada-U township, Mandalay Region.

The accident occurred at about 10pm on January 30 when a Nissan truck traveling south on the Mandalay-Nay Pyi Taw highway failed to stop at the crossing, crashing through a barrier and into the path of the oncoming passenger train, which had departed Mandalay an hour earlier.

Six carriages overturned on impact and the front section of the truck caught fire. The 42-year-old driver of the Yangon-bound truck, U Thein Tin, a gatekeeper and four people on board the train died at the scene. Fifteen people, including a 34-year-old foreign tourist, were taken to Tada-U Hospital and transferred to Mandalay General Hospital the following day.

The identity of the foreigner and his nationality have not been confirmed but officials transcribed his name from Myanmar script as “William Chat”.

While most of the injuries are believed to be minor there were unconfirmed reports that some of the injured later died in the hospital. A spokesperson for Mandalay General Hospital declined to comment.

Emergency personnel were alerted to the accident by the stationmaster at Tada-U station.

“We arrived as soon as we have heard about the accident. When we arrived, the truck was already in flames and we managed to extinguish it. The situation was terrible. The people on board were crying and yelling in the overturned carriages. The truck driver was dead, burned in the fire,” said Ko Tun Win, a volunteer fireman from Aungmyaythazan township in Mandalay who attended the accident.

“Volunteers helped the victims and took them to the nearest hospital. They also took the bodies of the dead,” he said.

A local resident who assisted the injured said the truck was traveling too fast to stop at the crossing, which is located near the 358-mile point, about 34 kilometres (21 miles) from central Mandalay. It was not clear whether a mechanical fault was a factor in the accident but police later charged the deceased driver under Act 237 of the Railways Act.

“The driver was going so fast. He hit the gatekeeper first and then collided with the train after breaking through the barrier. Many people were severely injured,” said the resident, adding that it was the first serious accident to occur on the line.

The Mandalay-Bagan Railroad was closed temporarily on the night of January 30 and reopened the following morning, officials said.

“We closed the railway line only on the night of the accident and then we cleaned the damage up quickly. Services resumed as normal on January 31,” said the deputy stationmaster at Mandalay Railway Station. Two services operate on the Mandalay-Bagan line each day, departing Mandalay at 7am and 9pm and arriving in Bagan about seven hours later.

– Translated by Yamon Phu Thit