High speed train crash injures 25, 4 of them seriously in France
At least 25 people were injured, four of them seriously, when a high-speed TGV train collided with a regional express train in southern France on Thursday.
Among those badly injured were a baby, a 10-year-old boy, a woman and the driver of the regional express train.
The high-speed train carrying 178 people collided with the regional express, which had 70 passengers, near the town of Denguin, on the line between Pau and Bayonne in the south-west of the country, local officials said. The crash happened about 17 kilometres (10 miles) from Pau.
The worst casualties were in a “terrible state”, a rescue worker said.
Two of them were airlifted to hospital, police told Le Figaro newspaper.
Four of the injuries were described as serious but no fatalities were expected, Patrice Abbadie, Pyrenees-Atlantiques prefectural spokesman said.
A medical unit was set up at a nearby school. The TGV was travelling at less than 20 miles per hour when the collision occurred, but nevertheless the impact was “extremely violent”, according to a local journalist at the scene.
It was unclear why it was moving so slowly. One report said it had stopped briefly but was moving again at the time of the collision, which occurred when the regional train rammed the high-speed TGV train from behind.
Both trains were badly damaged, with the front of the express train crumpled and the rear of the TGV reduced to a mass of twisted metal.
Initial reports from witnesses said the regional express hit the back of the TGV at about 5.30pm.
Twelve ambulances and a helicopter were rushed to the site of the crash, where police and firefighters had already arrived and were helping to extricate the injured from the wreckage. Twelve ambulances and a helicopter were rushed The cause of the accident was not immediately known, but the French state rail operator, SNCF, launched an immediate investigation.
All train services between Pau and Bayonne were suspended after the crash.
The collision came just over a year after a rail crash in Brétigny, outside Paris, in which seven people died and dozens were injured.
A recent report into the crash highlighted the poor state of the French rail network, blaming poor maintenance checks.
The report, released on the anniversary of that crash, was compiled by engineers appointed by a court to investigate the cause of the accident.
It said the poor state of the track meant that a tragedy was inevitable.
The report said the train had been derailed by a faulty fishplate – a link between two pieces of rail. It gave details of about 100 defects on the track, several of which had been known months before the crash but had not been corrected.