Train crash in Germany kills at least 9, injures nearly 90
Two commuter trains crashed head-on Tuesday morning in southern Germany, killing at least nine people and injuring around 90 as they slammed into each other on a curve
Rescue teams salvage an injured person at the site of a train accident near Bad Aibling, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Several people were killed when two trains collided head-on. (Uwe Lein/dpa via AP)
Emergency personnel treat injured persons at the site of a train accident near Bad Aibling, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Several people were killed in the crash. (Uwe Lein/dpa via AP)
BAD AIBLING, Germany (AP) — Two commuter trains crashed head-on Tuesday in southern Germany, killing nine people and injuring around 90 as they slammed into each other on a curve after an automatic safety braking system apparently failed, the transport minister said.
The regional trains collided before 7 a.m. on the single line that runs near Bad Aibling in the German state of Bavaria. Aerial footage shot by APTN showed that the impact tore the two engines apart, shredded metal train cars and flipped several of them on their sides off the rails.
The first emergency units were on the scene within three minutes of receiving the call, but with a river on one side and a forest on the other, it took hours to reach some of the injured in the wreckage. Hundreds of rescue crews using helicopters and small boats shuttled injured passengers to the other side of the Mangfall River to waiting ambulances, which took them to hospitals across southern Bavaria.
The two train drivers are thought to be among the dead and one person is not yet accounted for, authorities said.
“This is the biggest accident we have had in years in this region,” police spokesman Stefan Sonntag said.
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said safety systems on the stretch had been checked as recently as last week, but Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt suggested that a system designed to automatically brake trains if they accidentally end up on the same track didn’t seem to have functioned properly.
Dobrindt, however, said it was too early to draw a definitive conclusion.
Aerial view of rescue forces working at the site of a train accident near Bad Aibling, Germany, Tue …
“The site is on a curve. We have to assume that the train drivers had no visual contact and hit each other without braking,” Dobrindt told reporters in Bad Aibling, adding that speeds of up to 100 kph (60 mph) were possible on the stretch.
Black boxes from both trains had been recovered and are now being analyzed, which should show what went wrong, Dobrindt said.
“We need to determine immediately whether it was a technical problem or a human mistake,” he said.
Authorities had initially reported 150 injured but federal police spokesman Stefan Brandl later lowered that figure to 89, with ten of those injuries considered serious.
Each train could hold up to 1,000 passengers and are commonly used by children traveling to school, but because of regional holidays to celebrate Carnival, fewer than 200 were on board in total.
“We’re lucky that we’re on the Carnival holidays, because usually many more people are on these trains,” regional police chief Robert Kopp said.
About 700 emergency personnel from Germany and neighboring Austria were involved in the rescue effort, using about a dozen helicopters. Train operator Bayerische Oberlandbahn started a hotline for family and friends desperate to check on the passengers.