Elderly HK man dies travelling new Tibet railway

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 August, 2006, 12:00am

Updated at 5.11pm:
An elderly Hong Kong man has died while travelling on the newly-opened Qinghai-Tibet railway ? which runs on the high mountains along the Tibetan plateau, a newspaper reported on Monday.

The 75-year-old man died after suffering a heart attack on the return train from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to the Ningxia capital of Xining, a railway official, surnamed Zhang, was quoted by Ming Pao Daily as saying.

The Hong Kong man, who had been travelling in Tibet with his wife, had felt sick and remained in a hospital in Lhasa, Mr Zhang said.

Doctors had advised them against boarding the train. But the couple insisted on their journey and signed an agreement regarding health risks of high-altitude travel, Mr Zhang said.

The railway official said this was the first time a passenger of the 1,142 kilometre Golmud-Lhasa rail link had died since it was opened in July 1.

More than 960km, or over 80 per cent, of the line is built between 4,000 and 5,000 metres above sea level. Over half of it is laid on permafrost and the line crosses 675 bridges. The line includes the world?s highest railway station at Tanggula Pass, which is at 5,072m above sea level.

Health experts say acute exposure to high altitudes ? usually above 2,500m ? can cause altitude sickness. Early symptoms include drowsiness, general malaise, and weakness, especially during physical exertion.

More severe symptoms include headache, insomnia, persistent rapid pulse, nausea and sometimes vomiting, especially in children.

Extreme symptoms includes confusion, psychosis, hallucination, symptoms resulting from pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) such as persistent coughing, and finally seizures, coma and death.