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Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Alps tunnels' record of danger
Emergency workers outside the tunnel in Kaprun
Rescuers could do little after the Austrian fire
The accident in the Gotthard Tunnel follows other tragedies involving road and rail tunnel users in the Alps in recent years.

Tauern tunnel post-blaze
The aftermath of the Tauern fire
Almost a year ago, a fire inside the Austrian Alpine rail tunnel near the ski resort of Kaprun killed 155 people.

An investigation revealed a defective heater in the driver's cab sparked the fire in the funicular train tunnel.

In 1999, a huge inferno in the Mont Blanc road tunnel between France and Italy killed 39 people.

It took rescue services three days to put out the blaze, which started when a lorry caught fire.

About 40 vehicles were trapped in dense smoke as temperatures reached 1000C.

Two months later a blaze in the Tauern motorway tunnel under the Alps in central Austria killed 12 people and left 50 injured.

Like the Mont Blanc tunnel, the Tauern lacks an escape tunnel parallel to the road system - a design flaw criticised in the initial investigation into the Mont Blanc blaze.

Tunnel review

The fires sparked a major review of tunnel safety around Europe.

Inspectors visited 25 of the continent's biggest tunnels, and found that nearly a third had poor safety features.

Alpine trains have also had their share of disaster.

In June last year, more than 60 people were injured when two mountain trains collided near Germany's highest peak, the Zugspitze.

In 1972, 13 people died when a cable snapped on an elevated railway in the Swiss province of Vallais, sending carriages hurtling back to the valley station.

See also:

30 May 99 | Europe
Tunnel fire doused
14 Nov 00 | Europe
Grim task for Austrian soldiers
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