Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Thai train accident: 'It just got worse and worse'

Passengers carry their belonging as they leave form a derailed train in Phrae province, northern Thailand. Photo / AP
Passengers carry their belonging as they leave form a derailed train in Phrae province, northern Thailand. Photo / AP

A pane of glass was all that prevented three Kiwi travellers from being dragged underneath a train when it derailed in Thailand.

Brother and sister Scott and Sarah Middleton and their friend Chris Vile, who are holidaying in Thailand together, were asleep on the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai as it passed through the northern Phrae province yesterday.

"About 3am I got woken up when the train started bumping around like crazy,'' Mr Middleton said from a hotel in Chiang Mai today.

"Then I heard one big bump which must have been the back carriage derailing and then it just got worse and worse.

'' ... Everything started bouncing out into the aisle and a few seconds later the whole train tipped over and we went flying out of our beds.''

Mr Middleton said he and other passengers were flung onto the windows, which were flat on the tracks as the train hurtled forward.

"If any of those windows had broken the casualties would have been horrendous,'' he said.

Also, if the derailment had occurred just a few hundred metres down the track they could have all ended up in a river.

"There was a bridge going over a river and if we'd landed in it there would have been a lot of drownings.''

Ms Middleton hit her head on something, causing a cut that needed a few stitches.

"It was pretty freaky. All the lights went out and it was just a mad scramble with everyone trying to find everyone else and find all their belongings,'' she said.

The trio managed to climb out of the wreckage and Mr Vile began helping other passengers.

"There were quite a few elderly and young people who couldn't get out,'' he said.

A total of 30 people were injured, one seriously, when seven of the train's 10 carriages flipped onto their sides, the Associated Press reported.

Railway authorities believed the accident was caused by old tracks that were scheduled for repair.

However, Mr Middleton said it appeared to him to have occurred on a new part of the track.

The New Zealanders, all from Te Awamutu, said they would not let their ordeal stop them enjoying their Thai getaway.

- APNZ

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