Seven die in international train crash

09:12, 11 August 2008
World
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A Ukrainian man died in hospital

Five Czech women and a Polish man died in the accident of the international EuroCity Comenius train running from Cracow to Prague Friday, and a Ukrainian man died in hospital, Lukas Hampl, spokesman for the regional emergency service, told CTK.

According to Prague Daily Monitoring, Humpl said 65 people were treated in hospitals, including 11 Poles, two French, and two Slovaks. About 13 are said to be injured severely.

Simona Souckova, spokeswoman for the nearby Novy Jicin hospital, said the young man from Ukraine suffered injuries incompatible with life.

Souckova said another young person was fighting for life. The patient lost a lot of blood, had an amputated limb, and a severely injured stomach and hand, she said.

The accident occurred at around 10:30 when the train crashed into a part of a road bridge, currently being reconstructed, that fell down just before the passing train.

The train was running at a speed of 140 km/hour at the time of the accident.

The engine and four passenger carriages were derailed.

The Czech and Polish prime ministers, Mirek Topolanek and Donald Tusk, as well as some other Czech cabinet ministers arrived on the spot.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico expressed deep sympathy with the victims and their families, too.

Zdenek Nytra, head of Moravian-Silesian firefighters, said rescuers have extricated all passengers who survived the accident.

An information phone line 974723201 and 974723202 was established.

According to the Czech Interior Ministry, 123 passengers were on the train at the time of the crash.

The construction company that built the bridge, ODS-Dopravni stavby Ostrava, is to blame for the crash according to the Czech Railways (CD), CD spokesman Jiri Kubala told CTK.

Kubala said the company did not inform the CD about the construction work. Under standard conditions, trains would lower their speed near the bridge, he added.

The bridge allegedly fell without anyone`s intervention and nobody is said to have worked on it before the crash Friday.

"The engine driver said that when he was passing the station at about 135km/hour, he noticed that the bridge structure swung and started to fall down. He applied the fast brake and hid in the engine room. In about six seconds, the train crashed (into the ruin) at a speed of 120km/hour," said Jan Kucera, Rail Inspection deputy general inspector.

The engine driver suffered a light injury. Another two of the four-member train crew are also among the injured.

Topolanek said in a written statement that planned operations in state-owned hospitals in Moravia were not performed Friday to guarantee urgent treatment of the injured passengers.

He said all the passengers and their relatives received help from psychologists, rescuers, police and railway staff at Prague`s main train station.

Prague Daily Monitor

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