Smoke and screaming fills carriages as firebomb on Hong Kong MTR causes commuter chaos
Passengers describe the scene as like a a Korean zombie thriller movie
Witnesses to a fire that broke out on a Tsim Sha Tsui-bound MTR train on Friday night described the chaos as like a scene out of a Korean thriller movie.
At least 17 people were injured when a man lit a firebomb inside the Tsuen Wan Line train at 7.14pm, according to police. Flames and smoke quickly filled the carriages, prompting a mad rush off the train and for the exits.
Ray Chau, a 27-year-old interior designer, said smoke quickly spread through the train, with one person literally left on fire.
“When the train reached Tsim Sha Tsui, people immediately dashed out from the carriages. It was chaotic, like a scene out of Train to Busan,” Chau said, referring to a part in the 2016 zombie horror-thriller film when train passengers fight off the fictional creatures.
“I saw a spark two compartments away, there was a lot of smoke ... smoke in one compartment quickly filled the entire train,” Chau said. “The train journey felt particularly long ... there was nothing we could do but inhale the smoke.”
Chau said he saw a burns victim upon arriving at the injured-packed platform.
“One man was completely on fire, his long trousers became shorts ... he crawled and fell, others helped to put out the fire,” he said.
A 23-year-old woman, who identified herself only as Ling, said she remembered hearing the train captain say: “What is it? What is it?” over the public announcement system.
Just seconds later smoke filled the compartment, but she was unable to see exactly what caused the incident.
Video clips provided by Chau to the Post showed the Tsim Sha Tsui station platform packed with passengers after the blaze. People filled the escalators and staircases in an effort to leave. Torn newspaper could be seen scattered across the floor of the station.
Another passenger, surnamed Lam, said she heard passengers screaming as thick smoke started to push its way into her carriage.
Police cordoned off the pedestrian crossings at the junction of Nathan Road and Haiphong Road, where emergency vehicles lined both sides of the street.
Tsim Sha Tsui station was closed immediately following the incident, and a free shuttle was provided by the MTR for passengers heading towards Jordan and Yau Ma Tei.
Train service updates continued broadcasting in Tsim Sha Tsui station at regular intervals, despite there being no passengers, but instead scores of police officers, firefighters, cleaning personnel and media workers.
“Because of an incident at Tsim Sha Tsui, the train service on the Tsuen Wan line between Central and Tsuen Wan Station is running at four-minute intervals and will not stop at Tsim Sha Tsui Station,” a female announcer said.
“Staff are handling the situation. Please consider using other transport ... Thank you for your patience and understanding.”