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Four dead, dozens injured in Czech train crash

By AFP

June 6, 2024 09:43 AM


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Four people died and dozens were injured when an express train crashed head-on with a freight train in the Czech city of Pardubice late Wednesday, an emergency services spokesperson said.

"I can confirm that four people suffered injuries incompatible with life," local emergency spokeswoman Alena Kisiala told broadcaster Czech TV.

The accident had occurred shortly before 23:00 (2100 GMT) near the main train station in Pardubice, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of the capital Prague, Czech TV reported.

The express train had been carrying more than 300 passengers, many of them foreigners, it added.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala offered condolences on social media platform X, saying the crash was "a great disaster" and that "we all think of the victims and the injured".

The interior and transport ministers arrived at the site around 01:00 am Thursday (2300 GMT Wednesday).

Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said the majority of the injuries were light, and that the passengers were evacuated into the train station building.

The express train, operated by the private Regiojet company, was heading to the western Ukrainian town of Chop close to the border with Slovakia.

The timetable shows the train leaving Prague at 1952 GMT was due to leave Pardubice at 2047 GMT.

It was expected in Chop at 0835 GMT on Thursday after crossing Slovakia.

Czech TV footage showed at least one of the carriages had derailed and that passengers were being ushered into buses near the Pardubice main station.

Rakusan said that police were identifying the passengers gathered at the train station after Regiojet had provided the passenger list.

Rescuers said that nine ambulance vans, two helicopters and more than 60 firefighters, both professional and voluntary, had been deployed.

"The rescue work was complicated because the first carriage was deformed. That made it hard to access the injured people," firefighter Pavel Ber told reporters at the site.

Local fire brigade spokeswoman Vendula Horakova told Czech TV the freight train was transporting calcium carbide.

Investigation into the cause of the accident is underway, said Transport Minister Martin Kupka.

He added that the main train corridor connecting Prague with the second Czech city of Brno and the third city of Ostrava would remain closed for at least several hours.

Pardubice was also the scene of the worst-ever Czech railway accident in 1960 when 118 people died and around 100 were injured in a head-on collision of two passenger trains just north of the city.


AFP


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