23 dead as Transrapid train crashes in Germany

22nd September 2006, Comments 0 comments

22 September 2006, LATHEN, GERMANY - 23 people were killed Friday when a high speed maglev train collided with a service platform on a test track in northern Germany, officials said.

22 September 2006

LATHEN, GERMANY - 23 people were killed Friday when a high speed maglev train collided with a service platform on a test track in northern Germany, officials said.

The driverless train was travelling at 200 kilometres-an-hour when the accident occurred between the towns of Lathen and Melstrup in Emsland, near the border with the Netherlands.

Earlier a local government spokesman for the region said there were many fatalities among the 25 people in the maglev and five on the service platform.

Many of those who survived suffered serious injuries and were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.

Maglev trains, called Transrapid in German, float on a magnetic field and are propelled by a linear induction motor. They follow guidance tracks with magnets.

Television pictures showed wreckage and victims' clothing strewn along part of the 31.5-kilometre-long test track, which is built on concrete pillars.

The roof of the two-coach train was apparently ripped off in the impact.

Firemen used turntable ladders and aerial platforms to attend to the injured. Some 150 people were involved in the rescue operation.

The identity of the passengers was not immediately clear. One reports said they were family members and friends of employees who work for the firm that operates the track.

Private groups are often taken for pleasure trips on the maglev, which is capable of speeds of up to 450 kilometres per hour.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to the crash scene and German President Horst Koehler sent his condolences to the families of the victims and thanked those taking part in the rescue operations.

German Transportation Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee cut short a trip to China after hearing the news and planned to fly home later Friday to visit the scene of the accident.

The world's first commercial maglev line links the Chinese city of Shanghai with its international airport at Pudong.

On August 11, a fire occurred on a maglev train as it was leaving the city's Longyang station, but the passengers were able to escape and there were no reports of injuries.

The test track has been in operation in northern Germany since 1984.

DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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