Italy suspends use of US firm's railcars after deadly inferno

5th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Revising the casualty toll, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the number of dead now stood at 19 following the death of a badly-burned woman. Twenty-five others were injured, 11 seriously.

Rome -- Italy's national rail safety agency suspended the use of wagons belonging to the US company GATX last week following this week's train disaster which left 19 people dead.

"In agreement with the Italian railways, it has been decided to stop the wagons of the GATX company pending the result of ultrasound checks" of their axles, the head of the agency, Alberto Chiovelli, told members of the Senate.

Engineers from the agency are convinced that the cause of the accident was structural failure in one of the wagons carrying liquefied petroleum gas, which derailed as the train passed through the town of Viareggio, causing a massive explosion, he said.

Revising the casualty toll, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the number of dead now stood at 19 following the death of a badly-burned woman. Twenty-five others were injured, 11 seriously.

Italian newspapers carried Thursday pictures of the axle blamed for the crash, showing a crack and corrosion.

In a statement published on its website the company said, "GATX Rail Europe is deeply saddened by the tragic derailment that occurred in Viareggio.

"GATX Rail Europe is cooperating with the appropriate authorities and at this time, full details regarding the cause of the derailment are not yet known."

The US firm's European offshoots own some 20,000 tank wagons, with maintenance facilities and workshops in Germany, Austria and Poland.

"Technical services are crucial to provide our customers with safe and reliable rail cars," its website says.

"One of the substantial advantages of GATX Rail Europe is our rail car maintenance service network that handles a wide variety of technical services and ensures that rail cars are serviced thoroughly and quickly."

Earlier Thursday officials said the death toll had climbed to 18 after a man died in hospital overnight from serious burns sustained in the disaster.

The force of the blast brought down two small blocks of flats, where many of the victims lived. Others were simply passers-by caught up in the explosion.

Fire crews who worked round the clock to clear the remaining 13 wagons of their volatile cargo said Thursday they had finished their operation and rail authorities hoped normal service would resume in the next 24 hours.

AFP/Expatica

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