According to reports by AFP, a passenger train derailed during the morning rush hour in Hong Kong on Tuesday leaving eight people injured, authorities said. Images from the scene showed three carriages had left the tracks and were zigzagged across the rails near Hung Hom station in Kowloon — a busy interchange that provides services to mainland China. Passengers had to leave the train through a broken door and cross tracks on the East Rail line to make their way to safety.
Five hundred passengers had been evacuated from the train. Eight passengers reported injuries when they arrived at the concourse of the station, according to authorities. The cause of the derailment was still under investigation but there was no immediate suggestion of foul play after previous attacks by pro-democracy protesters on the city’s mass transit system. “We would not rule out any possibility but at this stage we won’t speculate on any particular suggestions,” the city’s transport chief Frank Chan told reporters in a presser.
Lau Tin-shing, operation director of the city’s only rail company, the MTR Corporation, told media “a short nearby section of rail track has been replaced yesterday” and the condition of the replacement is “not unsusal” according to his visual assessment. He added that it is too early to draw any conclusions on the incident and the train carriages will be rerailed and removed away from the incident site. Subway train services between two stations on the line had been suspended and the intercity train services to mainland Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Dongguan and Beijing were cancelled for the day due to the accident, according to the MTR.
Hong Kong is in its fourth month of political unrest, which has seen millions of protesters hit the streets in the biggest challenge to China’s rule since the city’s handover from Britain in 1997. Sparked by a now-withdrawn bill to allow extraditions to the mainland, the protests have turned increasingly violent with clashes between police and hardcore protesters becoming frequent. The MTR Corporation has been targeted by protesters since the company refused to hand over CCTV footage of police last month beating demonstrators and passengers on a subway train.
Protesters have vented their fury by vandalising entrance barriers and ticketing machines and smashing windows in several stations. In March, an MTR locomotive derailed and crashed into another train during the testing of a new signalling system. Both trains were badly damaged and the two train drivers suffered only minor injuries. No passengers were on the trains at the time.