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105 hours of solidarity: train passengers rescued from downpours in Beijing outskirt

2023-08-07 Editor : Zhang Dongfang ECNS App Download

(ECNS) --Passengers on trains K396, Z180 and K1178 were finally rescued after being stranded at Luopoling Railway Station in Mentougou District, Beijing amid heavy rain for 105 hours.

On the morning of July 30, train K396 from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was assumed to arrive at Beijing Fengtai Station in an hour, but was forced to stop at the Luopoling Station on the Fengtai-Shacheng line to avoid heavy rainfall.

Part of the Fengtai-Shacheng line collapsed and was temporarily closed. Except for K396, both trains Z180 and K1178, from Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and Yinchuan, Ningxia HuiAutonomous Region, respectively, were ordered to stop temporarily. The local railway department conducted emergency repairs immediately.

However, with the holdup prolonged, food and water on the train were in short supply, as the chief conductor Yang Long had worried.

According to Zhao Yang, a train attendant, all food had been sold out after lunch at around 12:50 p.m. on July 30.

“When the instant noodles were sold out, we quickly started the emergency plan and sold supply materials, but they were all snapped up in the afternoon,” Zhao said.

More than 900 passengers on K396 quickly consumed all food reserves on the train, forcing the chief conductor to contact the Luopoling Station for help.

The Luopoling, a freight station, is not able to accommodate passengers or has ready-made food. Ma Ruixin, the stationmaster of the station, contacted stores in the nearby Luopoling community and sent the first batch of relief supplies to the train in heavy rain.

At 5 p.m. on July 30, train K396 had been stranded for more than four hours, with no supplies left and no break in the downpour.

Subsequent landslides meant Ma could not reach the train with the second batch of supplies.

Passengers who gathered in the dining carriage grew increasingly restless.

“They repeatedly asked the chief conductor why the train had stopped so long,” Zhao said.

“We worried that they would fight for food and water, which might lead to stampedes,” she said, adding that she had to stand on a chair to dissuade them due to her stature.

A video clip shot by passengers recording her standing on a chair rapidly spread online and got reposted by media outlets.

The elderly and children were first in line to have dinner amid limited supplies.

On July 31, there were only 20 kilograms of potatoes and a little rice left on the train, which meant that not everyone could have breakfast. Yang still insisted on distributing breakfast to the elderly and children first.

That morning, the train was informed the ruined section of the railway had been repaired and that services could resume. However, more serious landslides in some sections caused by flooding once again disrupted railway operations, with trains K396 and Z180 forced to stop again.

What's worse, trains K396, Z180, K1178 lost contract with the Luopoling Station, with over 2,800 passengers waiting anxiously.

Rescue teams made every effort to reach the stranded trains via road, railway or mountain route.

At the same time, the water level of Luopoling Reservoir next to the Luopoling Station exceeded the flood limit, forcing passengers on train K396 to be evacuated to the nearby Luopoling community.

However, the community comprises merely 100 households, while passenger numbers exceeded 900. Therefore, only the elderly and children were hosted indoors, and the rest, in the open square.

From noon to dark, more than 20 crew members remained in the rain to prepare for an emergency.

Despite the continuing rain, conditions were finally confirmed safe at 12:00 a.m. for passengers in the square to return to their carriages.

At 5 a.m. on August 1, rising floodwaters again forced passengers off the train.

Meanwhile, the rescue forces moved hardly. After about seven hours of trekking, they finally reached train K396 at 4 p.m. the same day.

“We saw hope when we spotted the rescue teams,” Zhao said.

Rescuers who arrived in advance cleared a rescue channel, and got through with the outside world by satellite phones. Then a batch of relief supplies from a 40-member rescue team arrived at the Luopoling Station.

In the afternoon of August 1, another rescue team reached the Anjiazhuang Station where the train Z180 was stranded.

That evening, 500 armed police officers and soldiers arrived at Luopoling Station with food, clothes and medicine. In the early morning of the next day, the first batch of more than 300 passengers of Train K396 began to descend the mountain escorted by rescue teams. At 8: 00 a.m., they finally arrived at the Fengtai Station safely. 

On the morning of August 2, the first batch of passengers of train Z180 were transferred to a safe site temporarily. And the remaining stranded passengers of K396, Z180 and K1178 were then transferred in batches with the joint efforts of the government, railway departments, fire rescue, armed police officers and soldiers and more. 

As of August 3 morning, all passengers trapped by heavy rain had been transferred to safety after being stranded for 105 hours.


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