Debris believed to be from a cargo train smashed into a passenger train traveling in the opposite direction towards Copenhagen during a severe storm. It has been described as Denmark's worst accident since 1988.
Eight people were killed and at least a dozen injured on Wednesday morning in a train accident on a bridge linking the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen.
Denmark's Accident Investigation Board is investigating whether an empty freight container had blown off a cargo train wagon onto the tracks.
The freight containter probably overturned or was blown off the freight train, said accident investigator Bo Haaning. It rammed an oncoming passenger train either frontally or laterally, causing it to brake suddenly, he said.
Severe storm stalls rescuers
There were at least 131 passengers and three employees on board the express passenger train when the accident happened during strong wings at around 7:30 a.m. CET (0630 UTC), reported the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR).
"There was a loud crash and the windows started smashing onto our heads. We flew down onto the floor, and then the train stopped," passenger Heidi Langberg Zumbusch told DR.
Rescuers initially struggled to get to the scene of the incident because of a severe storm in the area.
Danish brewery group Carlsberg confirmed the freight train had been transporting crates of beer at the time of the accident
"This morning's tragic accident on the Great Belt Bridge with many killed and wounded has shaken us all. Ordinary Danes on their way to work or on the way home from Christmas holidays have had their lives shattered," Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said in statement.
Denmark's Queen Margrethe II said her "deepest sympathies go to the bereaved and their families, as well as those injured.
Rasmussen's Finnish counterpart, Juha Sipila, issued a statement expressing his condolences to the families of the victims and to all who are touched by the accident.
Considerable damage inflicted
Photos published by TV 2 News showed damage to the interior of the passenger train.
The accident happened on a road-and-rail bridge. Road traffic resumed on Wednesday with a reduced speed limit.
The rail section will be closed for the rest of the day, according to Banedanmark, a company that maintains much of the Danish railway network.
"There is also considerable damage to the overhead line system after the accident," it said on Twitter.
A crisis center has been opened at the nearby Nyborg Sports and Leisure Center to care for passengers.
Danish news agency Ritzau said it was Denmark's most severe train accident since 1988, when eight people died and 72 were injured after a train derailed near Zealand's town of Soro.
The 18-kilometer (11-mile) bridge, which is part of infrastructure linking Denmark and Sweden to Germany, carries around 21,000 train passengers and more than 27,000 vehicles each day.
kw/kms (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)