by Compiled from Wire Services
Feb 09, 2016 12:00 am
Two commuter trains crashed head-on Tuesday morning in a remote area in southern Germany, killing 11 people and injuring some 150, some of whom had to be cut out of the wreckage and transported across a river for medical care, police said. The two regional trains crashed before 7 a.m. on the single line that runs near Bad Aibling, in Bavaria, and that several wagons overturned, police spokesman Stefan Sonntag told The Associated Press. Fifty of those hurt have serious injuries, he added.
It took hours to reach some of the injured in the wreckage and the last missing person was found dead early Wednesday.
The rail line is commonly used by commuters heading to work in Munich, and would normally also carry children traveling to school, but they are currently on holiday, the dpa news agency reported.
It was not clear how fast the trains were traveling at the time of the crash but German rail operator Deutsche Bahn told dpa they were permitted to travel of speeds up to 120 kilometers per hour (80 mph) on that stretch of track. The trains crashed in a remote area about 60 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Munich in an area with a forest on one side and a river on the other.
Hundreds of emergency personnel from Germany and neighboring Austria were on the scene looking through the wreckage and aiding in the evacuation of the injured. "This is the biggest accident we have had in years in this region and we have many emergency doctors, ambulances and helicopters on the scene," Sonntag said.
The crash, which happened on a bend with poor visibility, was caused by "human error" according to initial investigation findings, a source told dpa Tuesday on condition of anonymity.
The two trains from the so-called Meridian line were both partially derailed and wedged against one another, train operator Bayerische Oberlandbahn said in a statement on its website.
Federal Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, speaking from the crash scene, said his thoughts were with the family members of the dead and the injured. "We need to find out know what happened, if the cause of the crash was based on the technology or human failure," he said.
Two black boxes from the trains were being examined. A third was still missing in the wreckage as of late Tuesday.
Bayerische Oberlandbahn said it had started a hotline for family and friends to check on passengers. "This is a huge shock. We are doing everything to help the passengers, relatives and employees," Bernd Rosenbusch, the head of the Bayerische Oberlandbahn, told dpa.
In Munich, the city blood center put out an urgent call for donors in the wake of the crash. Germany is known for the quality of its train service but the country has seen several other accidents, typically at road crossings. Germany's worst train accident happened in 1998, when a high-speed ICE train crashed in the northern German town of Eschede, killing 101 people and injuring more than 80.