Friday, April 11, 2008


I thought I would die, says trapped assistant driver


It was a terrifying moment for the assistant driver after the Sabah Railway Department train plunged into the Padas River on Wednesday afternoon. Relating his scary experience to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman from his hospital bed here yesterday, Awang Amale, 35, said he was trapped in the cabin of the Beaufort-bound train that fell into the river. Awang, who suffered a broken left leg in the incident, said he was with the driver and station master in the cabin as it went down all of a sudden. “The train was travelling as usual at between 15 and 20 km per hour, and suddenly I realised the train was falling into the Padas River and sinking,” he said. “I and the station master were trapped in the cabin while the driver had managed to escape,” he said, adding that at that moment, he felt he was going to die after having drunk a lot of water. “But luckily, I managed to open the window of the cabin and get out with the station master,” said Awang, who is from Kampung Benoni, Papar. He said he managed to swim to the river bank despite being seriously injured, but he had to be helped out of the river by people at the scene. “This was my first such experience since working for the State Railway Department and during that time when I was trapped inside the cabin, I thought I would die,’ he said. According to Awang, the same train was previously derailed twice, the first time at Mile 62 1/2 Beaufort and then at Mile 61 1/2. Awang started working temporarily at the Tenom Station year ago following the suspension of Beaufort-Tanjung Aru railway service to make way for upgrading work. Meanwhile, Musa spent about an hour comforting Awang and Rina Randi, 24, who were both admitted to Keningau Hospital for treatment. The Chief Minister, who was accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister cum Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Radin Malleh and State Health Department Director’s representative Dr Heric Cooray, also made donations to the two victims. Rina was said to be suffering from internal injury and underwent an operation yesterday. Both patients were reported to be in stable condition.