Final toll given of deaths and injuries in German train crash

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By Euronews  with REUTERS
Final toll given of deaths and injuries in German train crash
  • Official toll of deaths and injuries confirmed
  • Speculation over cause of crash
  • Officials say it is too early to say if cause was a technical fault or human error

The authorities in Germany have now confirmed ten people were killed and 81 injured when two commuter trains collided head-on on Tuesday morning.

18 of those injured are said to be in a serious condition.

Police say the recovery operation at the scene will get fully underway today.

What we know so far

  • Trains collided on a single-track line near the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling at 0700 local time.
  • 100 passengers were involved
  • Officials say both trains were quieter than usual as it is a holiday week.
  • Investigators say neither train braked. They have suggested this was because they could not see each other due to a curve in the track.
  • Two of the three “black box” data recorders have been recovered.
  • Both the train and the track were fitted with automatic braking systems. The investigation will focus on why this did not work.

The rescue operation

The crash happened on a curve in the six-kilometre section of single track.

The site is a heavily-wooded hillside on the banks of a river.

Access was very difficult. Survivors were airlifted to hospital via helicopter. Rescuers used inflatable boats on the river.

Hundreds of emergency service workers, including mountain rescue teams, worked to save passengers trapped in the wreckage.

Technical fault or human error?

An investigation has been launched into the accident, which happened near the spa town of Bad Aibling in the southern state of Bavaria.

It will focus on whether the crash was caused by human error or a technical fault.

An automated braking system is installed across the German network and all trains.

Police have declined to comment on the cause of the crash.

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said an investigation had begun and the priority was to find out whether the cause was a technical problem or human error.

He told reporters both trains must have been travelling at high speed going into the curve, and that the drivers would probably not have seen each other.

State-owned operator Deutsche Bahn is responsible for the track. The company says the safety system was checked last year.

The train operator, Meridian, is part of French passenger transport firm Transdev. The company is jointly owned by state-run bank CDC and water and waste firm Veolia.

Train crashes in Germany

  • 1998 – Germany’s most serious post-war accident
  • 101 killed in high-speed crash near northern town of Eschede
  • 2011 – 10 die in Magdeburg when driver went through two red signals
  • Automatic braking system brought in nationally as a result

What they are saying

“I trust that the authorities responsible will do everything they can to clear up how this accident could happen.”Angela Merkel, German Chancellor.

“Managemen and staff are terribly shocked by the exceptionally serious accident.”Transdev