The incident occurred in the country's capital on Monday evening when two light-rail trains collided head-on, leaving dozens of passengers bloody and dazed. One of the trains was empty, while the other one was carrying 213 people.
Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong set up a task force to investigate the crash and on Tuesday said the early signs pointed to human error.
"Preliminary investigations indicate that the accident was the result of carelessness of the [operator] who drove [the empty train] in the wrong direction," he said at a news conference.
The crash left 47 people severely hurt and another 166 with minor injuries, police said on Monday. 64 victims were still receiving hospital treatment on Tuesday afternoon, with six of them in critical condition, according to the Malay Mail.
Monday's collision was the first major accident in the metro system's 23 years of operation, Wee said.
The crash occurred in a tunnel not far from the city's iconic Petronas Towers, twin skyscrapers that are among the tallest buildings in the world.
The empty train had experienced a malfunction that required a conductor to drive it away for repairs, Wee said. But instead of driving south, the conductor mistakenly drove north, into the path of the train full of passengers, he added.
The train full of people had been sitting at the station for at least 10 minutes when the doors closed and it started moving, passengers told local media. But after a few seconds, there was a powerful jolt that shattered windows and sent people flying.
Images posted to social media shortly after the collision show stunned passengers lying on the floor amid broken glass and smears of blood.
"We had only moved for a few seconds when the crash happened and the impact was so strong that I suffered injuries to my head, left leg and chest," Afiq Luqman Mohamad Baharudin told the Bernama news agency.
"I heard a loud bang and the impact sent me flying several meters from where I was standing," another injured passenger, R. Anand Raj, told the New Straits Times from a hospital.
"I could hear people crying and saw several people trying to help those on the floor to stand," he said, adding that it was about 15 minutes before the stunned passengers realized they had struck another train.
Train service resumed with reduced capacity Tuesday morning.
Published : May 26, 2021
By : The Washington Post · Michael E. Miller