Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 20:16 UK

Seven dead in Czech train crash


The scene of the crash

An international express train has hit a collapsed bridge in the Czech Republic, killing seven people and injuring around 70 more.

The EuroCity train - from the Polish city of Krakow to the Czech capital, Prague - was travelling at 140km/h (87 mph) before it hit the debris.

It was the Czech Republic's worst train accident for more than a decade.

The train had about 400 people on board when the accident happened in Studenka, near the north-east border with Poland.

Firefighters attended the scene, helping remove the victims from the train.

Both Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, travelled to the site of what a railway spokesperson described as "a serious disaster".

Emergency brake

The accident happened when a motorway bridge undergoing construction work collapsed on to the track as the train was approaching at 1030 local time (0830GMT), Czech railways officials said.

It is clear that any financial compensation cannot relieve the pain and sadness of all those who have been affected by this event
Czech PM Mirek Topolanek

The driver pulled the emergency brake when he saw the collapsed bridge, but the engine carriage and several passenger carriages were derailed by the debris.

Television images showed rescuers climbing into the green and white carriages to try to pull survivors out.

AFP news agency reported that 16 fire brigade units with a total of 30 vehicles attended the crash site, as ambulances and helicopters transported the injured to hospital.

A spokeswoman for the local hospital said extra staff had been called in to deal with the injured train crash survivors.

The fatalities were five Czechs, a Pole and a Ukrainian, reports said.

'Find the culprit'

Mr Topolanek said the initial priority was "to help those who have suffered".


"Only then, we will have time to thoroughly investigate the incident, to find the culprit and to eventually compensate [the victims]," he was reported as saying by Associated Press news agency.

"It is clear that any financial compensation cannot relieve the pain and sadness of all those who have been affected by this event."

Many on board were young people travelling to a music festival in Pardubice, Czech television reported.

The accident might have claimed even more lives had it not happened during the holiday period, according to a BBC news website reader.

"I travel by this train once a week when I'm travelling to school and it's always so overcrowded that there isn't even a place for standing," said Vladimir, by email.

Country profile: Czech Republic
10 Jul 08 |  Country profiles

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