Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 10:58 UK

Irrigation leak probed in deadly Italian train crash

Train crash near the northern Italian cities of Merano and Bolzano
The train was knocked off its tracks by a sudden landslide

Italian prosecutors are investigating whether water from an irrigation system could have caused a landslide that derailed a train, killing nine people.

Eight people are expected to be summoned for questioning, Italian papers have reported.

The landslide knocked the train off the tracks as it was travelling in north-eastern Italy, not far from the border with Austria.

Trees are thought to have prevented it from tumbling into the valley below.

At least 28 people were injured in the accident, which took place on Monday morning on the line from Castelbello to Laces, not far from the city of Bolzano.

The 400 cubic metre-landslide that hit the train is believed to have been triggered by an accumulation of water from an irrigation system on an apple orchard above the tracks.

Some reports said an irrigation pipe had burst, while others suggested that a tap had been opened.

The head of the local prosecutors office was quoted as saying that two orchard owners and six employees of the local irrigation system had been placed under investigation for questioning.

He stressed that it was not yet clear whether they were to blame.

The railway line runs at the foot of an alpine valley with mountains towering up to 3,000m (9,850ft) above.

Inaugurated in 2005, it is said to be one of the most modern in the country.

Map showing local train lines

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES Italian Derailment Death Toll Rises to Nine - 3 hrs ago
Mass Transit Magazine 11 Dead as Landslide Causes Derailment in Italy - 22 hrs ago
Pretoria NewsLandslide derails Italian train - 26 hrs ago
Times Online Authentic Italia in Liguria - 27 hrs ago
Cape TimesAt least six killed, 25 injured as landslide derails Italian train - 28 hrs ago
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