The first group of passengers from K396 train arrives at Beijing Fengtai Railway Station on Wednesday. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Thousands saved after almost 4 days trapped on city's western outskirts
Thousands of passengers trapped for almost four days on two trains stranded by floodwaters on Beijing's outskirts have been rescued thanks to joint efforts by soldiers, railway workers and local residents.
A third train remained stuck in flood-hit Mentougou district in western Beijing as of press time.
Nearly 3,000 passengers and crew members had been trapped on three trains — K396, K1178 and Z180 — since Sunday noon. All the trains had made emergency stops in Mentougou due to floodwaters caused by heavy rain.
Passengers on K396 and K1178 arrived safely in Beijing and other destinations on Wednesday. Some spoke of their ordeals and how they were rescued.
"The train stopped by the mountain and we all got off the train (after spending one day on board)," Li Shukun, a 10-year-old girl from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region who traveled on K396, told Beijing Radio and Television Station.
"We slept in a very big library. Local people told us it is the best place in the village."
The girl was traveling with 40 schoolmates and three teachers for a summer tour of Beijing.
"I was scared and cried. I missed my mom and dad but I could not call them because there was no phone signal," she said, adding that local people brought them food as well as blankets to keep them warm.
Due to a mudslide and continuous rainfall, it was difficult to access the village.
On Monday evening, People's Liberation Army rescue teams traveled by military helicopters to the village and brought food supplies.
Guided by the soldiers, the stranded passengers walked for hours to a nearby railway station where a special train service took them to Beijing Fengtai Railway Station on Wednesday morning.
"I am finally home," said 26-year-old Li Yi, who was in the first group of passengers to arrive. "We were pretty desperate (at first). When we saw them (the rescue team), we had hope."
The remaining K396 passengers arrived in the afternoon.
The incident was also a test for railway employees.
A video clip showing crew member Zhao Yang choking back tears as she tried to comfort passengers went viral online.
"I am a woman and a daughter. I am wearing this uniform and I am responsible for you," Zhao told people on the train.
"I am begging you all, please be patient, do not push, there is no hurry. We are preparing instant noodles and porridge for you."
Train K1178 was able to stop at Yanhecheng Station in Mentougou at 12.57 pm on Sunday. As the station is at a higher altitude and not as susceptible to flooding, railway authorities decided to keep the 841 passengers and 30 staff on the train until the situation improved.
"When passengers woke up the next morning, some of them became pretty anxious after they found the train was still stopped at the station. We crew members divided into 15 teams to comfort passengers one by one," said Ni Peng, a crew member onboard.
On Wednesday afternoon, the line to Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, was reopened for service. Passengers took a commuter train and arrived at Zhangjiakou on Wednesday afternoon.
They will continue their journeys from there.
Food and water is being provided to passengers still stranded on Z180, by railway employees carrying supplies along flooded rail tracks.
About 30 train employees have each walked hours to a village and returned with 15 kilograms of food, according to media reports.
Some of the passengers began to leave the train at noon on Wednesday with the help of a rescue team, according to China State Railway Group.