Beijing metro accident update: 515 injured and 102 suffer fractures as carriages detach on Changping Line

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15th December 2023 – (Beijing) On Thursday evening, a rush-hour accident occurred on the Beijing metro, resulting in numerous injuries after two cars detached from a train on an above-ground section. The incident, which took place near Xi’erqi Station in the northern part of the city, has left authorities puzzled as to its cause, although recent snowstorms in the Chinese capital may have played a role.

The Beijing transportation service swiftly responded to the situation, evacuating the scene and providing medical assistance to the injured.

Around 11pm, the personnel transfer was completed, and the on-site disposal work was mostly finished. A total of 515 individuals were sent to hospitals for examination, with 102 cases of fractures reported. Fortunately, there were no fatalities. As of 6am this morning, 423 people have been discharged, 25 are under observation, and 67 are receiving inpatient treatment.

According to preliminary investigations, the accident was caused by slippery tracks due to snowfall, leading to a downgraded signal for the preceding train. The emergency braking resulted in a sudden stop. However, the following train, located in a downhill section, slid on the snowy tracks and was unable to brake effectively, resulting in a rear-end collision with the preceding train.

The incident unfolded at 6.57pm when the last two cars of a metro train unexpectedly separated from the rest of the carriages. Witnesses and social media users described the chaotic scene, with passengers falling to the ground and experiencing back pain. Disturbing images circulated online, revealing stranded commuters on the floor amidst partial lighting outages. Some resourceful passengers resorted to using emergency hammers to break train windows in an attempt to escape.

Firefighters and emergency personnel promptly arrived at the scene to aid in the evacuation process. Notably, an elderly rider required assistance, and amidst the deep snow, passengers had to navigate their way to safety.

Beijing Subway, the operator of the train, issued an apology on Weibo, expressing their sincere regret over the incident. They assured passengers who left the premises unaccompanied during the evacuation and subsequently experienced discomfort that they could contact the company for support, with all associated costs covered.

As investigations into the accident progressed, preliminary findings revealed that the rear car failed to apply effective brakes, leading to a collision with the preceding car. The slippery tracks caused by the recent snowfall may have contributed to the incident.

The Beijing municipal government has established an investigative team to determine the exact cause of the accident, evaluate emergency response procedures, and implement necessary improvements. They have emphasised the importance of learning from this incident, holding those responsible accountable, and ensuring the safety of the city’s transportation system. The authorities will conduct a comprehensive review, strengthen management protocols, and refine extreme weather operational and emergency response plans to prevent future accidents.