WENZHOU, Zhejiang – “Thank goodness I am OK,” said Tian Ruiyin, 39, who never expected an ordinary train journey to turn into a nightmare.
On July 23, it was just another trip from his hometown in East China’s Shandong province to his work place and current permanent residence in Fuzhou, the capital city of East China’s Fujian province.
An injured man receives medical treatment at a hospital after two carriages from a bullet train derailed and fell off a bridge in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, on Saturday. [Aly Song / Reuters]
In the No 15 coach of the express D301 train from Beijing to Fuzhou, Tian and his wife were talking about their reluctance to leave their parents behind. Their two children were playing cards.
There were about only two hours left before they were due to arrive at South Fuzhou Station.
“My children climbed down from the upper bunk and sat with my wife on the lower bunk, as the thunder and lightning outside the train scared them,” said Tian.
When he stood up, trying to stretch his legs a bit after a long spell on the lower bunk, he suddenly fell over and acute pain raced through his back. He heard his children crying.
Only then did he realize that the train might have hit something.
“It felt like someone threw me fiercely against the wall,” he said.
The lights went off suddenly, and he could hardly see his children and wife.
Then he heard people shouting: “Our train crashed into another train.”
“I could feel the tension in the air – for a couple of seconds there was dead silence, and people broke into shouts and cries, ” he said.
Within a couple of minutes, all the passengers were ordered to leave the train as soon as possible.
“It was quite chaotic, totally out of order,” he said.
People ran to the exits and jumped onto the rails, which were some 20 meters above the ground on an overpass.
“I heard people crying and breaking glass windows,” he said.
His wife carried the two children while he carried the luggage. The family groped in the darkness, amid thunder and lightning.
“We were not quite clear about what exactly happened, and we felt just unlucky that we had to get off to stumble along the rails.
“Then we found out that several coaches had fallen over and hit the ground,” he said.
He also saw some passengers covered with blood who could not move, having been struck by the falling baggage.
Tian and his family, together with those survivors who could move on their own, were told to go back and forth along the railway several times, until a slope that led to the farmland beneath the overpass was found.
“I don’t know how much time we spent wandering along the railway – it was just scary and frustrating,” said Tian.
When he and his family finally set their feet on the ground, he found out that everyone was fine.
“My wife was OK, but my children had some slight bruises, and they were so scared that they could not stop crying,” he said.
He decided to let his wife take the two children home on another train, which got to Fuzhou at 10 am on Sunday, almost 12 hours after their scheduled arrival.
Tian was then sent to Wenzhou No 3 People’s Hospital to have his back checked. Fortunately, there were no major injuries.
Tian then took a train from South Wenzhou Station to Fuzhou Station on the morning of July 24.
On the taxi from the hospital to South Wenzhou Station, Tian received several calls from friends and relatives checking up on him.
“Thank goodness – I could have been one of the very unlucky ones, if I were in some other coach,” he repeated, hands shaking.