German trains evacuated due to scorching heat: company

11th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Sweltering temperatures forced the evacuation of three German high-speed trains after an air-conditioning breakdown made the carriages unbearable, a company spokesman said Sunday.

As a heatwave gripped the country, state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn said the air-conditioning systems in the three trains travelling from Berlin to the Rhineland in the west of the country had overheated.

The scorching heat in the carriages led personnel to order the evacuations of the hundreds of passengers on board in the cities of Hanover and Bielefeld. "We apologise for our air conditioners malfunctioning in very high temperatures," the spokesman said.

Local media said temperatures in the packed train that stopped in Bielefeld had reached more than 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).

"It was like a sauna," a 16-year-old told the daily Westfalenblatt.

Several passengers, fearing they would collapse, had to lie down on the floor of the carriages. The mother of a small boy attempted to smash a window with an emergency hammer to let in fresh air, the newspaper reported.

Rail staff and emergency services workers handed out cold drinks to dehydrated passengers before they were placed on other trains, the company spokesman said.

© 2010 AFP

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