Rescuers cut into train in hunt for survivors

12th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

ZOUFFTGEN, France, Oct 12, 2006 (AFP) - More than 250 rescue workers pushed on Thursday with search operations at the scene of a crash between two trains in northeastern France which killed at least five people.

ZOUFFTGEN, France, Oct 12, 2006 (AFP) - More than 250 rescue workers pushed on Thursday with search operations at the scene of a crash between two trains in northeastern France which killed at least five people.

"The chances of finding survivors is diminishing by the hour," a fire officer coordinating the task, Colonel Bernard Franoz, said.

"Unfortunately, it's still possible we might discover other bodies," another official said.

"The toll won't be finalised until we've finished the operations of cutting open all the wagons."

The accident occurred Wednesday when a passenger train from Luxembourg carrying around 20 people smashed head-on into a goods train in this village just 1.5 kilometres south of the Luxembourg border.

The two trains were moving in opposite directions along the same train track while a parallel line was undergoing maintenance work.

Regional officials who set up an emergency centre to handle the disaster late Wednesday gave the confirmed toll as five dead and five injured, revising downwards an initial toll by firemen and France's state SNCF rail company of 12 dead and around 20 injured.

The two trains had collided with such impact that the locomotive of the freight train had mounted the front of the passenger train, sending several wagons scissoring out into woods alongside the track.

The operation to cut into the crumpled wagons had gone on all night.

"It's apocalyptic. There's a mess of steel and tangled metal, with wagons up-ended and pointing into the sky," Bertrand Mertz, vice-president of the Lorraine regional council, said late Wednesday.

Top officials, including prime ministers Dominique de Villepin of France and Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, visited the scene of the crash Wednesday, and President Jacques Chirac issued a statement expressing his condolences to the bereaved.

The two trains were a double-decker Luxembourg regional express train travelling south to the French city of Nancy, and a freight train heading north into Luxembourg.

The maintenance work meant trains were alternately sent along the functioning rail-line.

Guillaume Pepy, SNCF executive director, said the French freight train was the first onto the section of track, and that its driver had not broken a red light.

Two investigations have been opened, one at SNCF and one conducted by the state Bureau of Accident Investigation.

The rescue teams were searching for recording devices — similar to the "black boxes" used in aircraft — to help the inquiries.

France's last serious rail accident was in 2002 when 12 died in a fire on a night train near Nancy.

In 1997, 13 were killed in a collision between a train and an oil tanker on a level crossing in the southwestern Dordogne department.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

0 Comments To This Article