Head-on train collision leaves over a dozen dead in Poland | News | DW | 04.03.2012
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Head-on train collision leaves over a dozen dead in Poland

A train collision in Poland has killed over a dozen people in one of the worst accidents of its kind in recent years, according to officials. Rescue workers are trying to free trapped survivors from the wreckage.

Two trains ran into each other in a head-on collision in southern Poland Saturday evening, leaving at least 16 people dead and injuring some 60 others.

"This certainly is the most tragic train disaster in our history in many, many years," said Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who arrived at the site of the crash early on Sunday. "We all feel for the victims and for the families of those who died."

One of the trains, heading from the capital, Warsaw, to the southern city of Krakow, was traveling on the wrong track when it ran into another train going from the eastern city of Przemysl to Warsaw, according to Andrzej Pawlowski, a member of the board of state railway company PKP.

It was not immediately clear why the southbound train was on the wrong track. Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the matter.

Around 350 passengers were on the two trains.

Some 450 firefighters and 100 police officers had set up tents for the injured and were trying to free people from the wreckage, focusing on the first three wagons, which were the hardest hit. One of the train cars had jack-knifed upward due to the force of the collision. Other cars had been derailed and lay on their sides.

"We heard a deafening noise and we were hurled out of our seats," one survivor told the PAP Polish news agency. "We saw crushed bodies pinned beneath seats and we saw parts of bodies inside and outside the train wagons," the survivor said.

Poland's neighbors Ukraine, Germany and Slovenia were the first to offer their condolences to Warsaw in the wake of the crash.

"It is with horror that I learned about the grave train accident in Poland that killed numerous people and injured many others," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. "Our deepest compassion and our condolences go to our Polish friends."

slk, ncy/gb (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)