Monday, October 31, 2011

Train, fuel tanker crash triggers explosion in Kota Kinabalu

Flames billow from the site of the train and fuel tanker crash in Kota Kinabalu, October 31, 2011.

A Sabah Railways train and a road fuel tanker collided this evening, causing a huge explosion at Jalan Kepayan-Jalan Lintas junction near the Kota Kinabalu international airport here.

According to Bernama Online, at least eight people — including both the train and tanker drivers — were injured in the incident that occured around 5.30pm.

The casualties were sent to the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital for attention. No fatalities have been recorded so far.

Fire and rescue services were deployed to the scene shortly after the crash, but found on arrival that most of the passengers had managed to escape from the stricken train unaided.

TheStar Online reported that 34 passengers were still unaccounted for, although police confirmed that none remained onboard the train carriages. Authorities are reportedly searching the area for those missing.

According to Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib, the fully-laden tanker was attempting to cross the railway tracks to reach a fuel station where it was making a delivery, but was unable to clear the tracks in time to avoid the approaching train.

The impact triggered a derailment of the train, leading to one of the carriages crashing onto the tanker and sparking the raging inferno and subsequent blast.

The tanker driver has been taken into police custody for questioning, Hamza added.

A Sabah Railways spokesman later described the crossing as illegal.

A witness who arrived shortly after the crash, Busri Asad, 39, told Bernama Online of scenes of chaos as passengers fled the burning train.

“I also saw people running to the back of the carriages. About 10 minutes after the collision, there was an explosion and a massive fire broke out,” he said.

The sight of the burning wreckage on the site brought traffic flow along both roads to a near halt.

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