Trains collide in eastern France

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Two trains have collided head-on in eastern France at Zoufftgen in the Moselle region of France, close to the Luxembourg border, at around 11:45 local time (09:45 UTC) earlier today. Based on inital reports, BBC News has suggested 10 passenger deaths as well as the those of two train drivers involved in the incident and a track side worker. French officials later confirmed at least 5 dead.

The trains were a french freight train and a Luxembourgeois passenger train. The passenger train was travelling from Luxembourg to Nancy and the freight train was travelling from Thionville to Luxembourg.

There are also at present 20 additional casualties although this number could rise. BBC News has reported, some of the injured may still be trapped in wreckage. Rescuers from France and Luxembourg are at the scene, with BBC reporting that a mobile hospital as well as specialist equipment was on the way.

The cause of the crash is undetermined at present, but due to engineering works, single line working was in operation on the route affected. The trains collided head-on. An SNCF spokesman was quoted as saying "Due of the engineering works, only one way was available and train traffic was alternating" He continued, "For reasons still to be established, the trains found themselves facing each other".

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Transport Minister Dominique Perben are understood to be on their way to the scene of the incident.

Eric Soupa, a local official was quoted (BBC News) on French radio: "We are faced with an important and dramatic situation." According to first reports, the spokesman of SNCF has indicated that the driver of the freight train did not "pass a signal at red" and had actually passed the signal at green.