Malaysia: Passenger train vanishes on its way to China

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A passenger train en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 31 Malaysian crew members and 1306 passengers from 11 nations, has apparently disappeared without a trace in less than an hour after its departure.

The train belonging to Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) was last seen Monday morning near Tanjung Malim, approximately 70 kilometres north of the Malaysian capital.

For some reason that has yet to be determined, the 55-car train never made it to the next station, and the Malaysian government’s search efforts to locate the missing vehicle have yet to produce any result.

Malaysia’s Minister of Defence, Hishammuddin Hussein, assured that the search efforts would continue over a much larger area than the 2000 km2

“The country’s best investigators are already on the case, trying to investigate and determine what happened to the train,” M. Hussein told reporters. “At the moment, we are not discarding any leads or hypothesis. We have no evidence indicating that an accident occurred, so we are still hoping to find the train intact, with the crew and passengers unhurt. We’ve mobilized a lot of resources to find it, including planes, helicopters and numerous soldiers, so it’s only a question of time before we succeed.”

An incomplete list of passengers has been made public by KTMB, including a majority of Malaysians, as well as 121 Chinese citizens, 9 Laotians, 7 Australians, 41 Thais, 14 Burmese, 5 Vietnamese, 4 British, 2 Americans, one French and one Canadian.

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The families of the passengers are shaken, like this man whose wife was aboard the train to visit her parents in China.

The Malaysian government received significant criticism, especially from China. In a press release, Chinese president Xi Jinping stated that “the Chinese government deeply concerned and disappointed by the situation”.

“We were already worried when they lost a plane two years ago, but losing a train 1300 metre long is almost unimaginable. ” reads President Xi’s communiqué. “Our government is determined to find out what happened to the 121 Chinese citizens who were aboard that train, and we will do everything we can to solve the mystery of their disappearance.”

The Chinese President also announced that a special envoy had been sent to Kuala Lumpur to consult with the Malaysian government over the missing train.

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