Six dead, 35 injured in Czech train accident

August 8th, 2008 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Prague, Aug 8 (DPA) Six people died and 35 were injured Friday after a bridge structure fell in front of a speeding international train in eastern Czech Republic, firefighters said. Five women and one man were killed in the crash, while two French nationals, an English-speaking passenger and several Poles were among the injured, said fire service spokesman Petr Kudela.

“We have conducted a search of the site. We hope no-one else is there,” Kudela told DPA.

A Eurocity train from Krakow to Prague crashed into the structure, which had fallen onto the tracks from a bridge under reconstruction on the outskirts of north-eastern town of Studenka, spokesman for Czech Railways Radek Joklik said.

The engine driver, who sustained light injuries, had noticed that the bridge structure was swinging in front of the approaching train, Joklik said.

He applied speed brakes, slowing the train to some 130 km per hour, and took cover in the engine’s machine room, he said.

The subsequent impact derailed the engine and four train cars, according to the spokesman.

Some 20 firefighting units rushed to the scene in order to free the victims from the wrecked cars, while helicopters and ambulances shuttled the injured to local hospitals, firefighters said.

Hospitals in the region have asked volunteers to donate blood, according to local media reports.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is heading to the wreckage, the government office said.

Trains from the Czech Republic to neighbouring Poland and Slovakia are to run on detour tracks, the railways said.

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