Survivors scrambled to safety as others perished

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 November, 2008, 12:00am

Survivors and witnesses of Saturday's deadly subway tunnel collapse in Hangzhou , Zhejiang province , recounted the sudden disaster that engulfed 11 vehicles and dozens of people within seconds.

A migrant worker at the site, identified only as Zhao, said his mind went blank as huge steel supporting columns fell one after another amid heavy dust, the Xinmin Evening News reported.

'It happened in the blink of an eye,' he said.

He fled after hearing a workmate's warning and, sometimes on all fours, managed to clamber up a 10-metre slope to the surface.

He said he saw many fellow workers running and shouting in the tunnel after he had escaped. Some disappeared under falling columns, screaming as they were trapped.

To rescue trapped workmates, they set up an emergency hoist and pulled up more than 30 people, though some fell as the shabby lift did not have hand rails, a tearful Mr Zhao said.

A taxi driver, identified as He, said she was waiting at a red light near the subway construction site when a cloud of dust covered her car.

She shouted to her passenger to get out and tried to reverse the vehicle, only to see the car behind her falling into the tunnel, she told Zhejiang Online.

Ms He put on the handbrake and climbed to safety as the road collapsed into the tunnel.

Lian Guorong, a resident who witnessed a bus narrowly escape, said the driver stopped as the road shook and let the passengers out.

All of the 26 passengers escaped, although they looked shocked, with some crying and shaking.