Thursday 24 January 2019

Three dead as commuter train comes off track

Search for survivors on Milan route notorious for its packed carriages

Right, a woman is pulled from the wreckage. Photo: AP
Right, a woman is pulled from the wreckage. Photo: AP
Rescue teams at the scene on the outskirts of Milan after the commuter train was derailed. Photo: Reuters

Danhy Boyle

At least three people have been killed after a commuter train derailed in Italy, trapping passengers in carriages.

Another 13 people were seriously injured when the regional train came off the tracks near Milan yesterday.

About 100 other people suffered minor injuries in the crash, according to emergency services.

The Trenord service derailed at the Pioltello Limito station on the outskirts of the city in northern Italy.

Two carriages peeled off the rails and came to rest at an angle. Rescue crews climbed through them, helping the passengers to escape.

Two hours after the accident, rescuers continued to search the inside of the carriages, at least two of which lay on the track, in search of trapped passengers.

The train was heading from Cremona, in eastern Lombardy, into Milan's Garibaldi station at about 6am and suffered some damage to a wheel about 2.5km from where the train came to a halt, said Umberto Debruto, chief of the Italian railway network.

Mr Debruto said the train was travelling at the correct speed for that hour, on a high-speed line which was normal for that stretch of track, where there are two conventional rail lines and two high-speed lines.

He denied any common cause between yesterday's derailment and a July 23 derailment outside the Pioltello station in which no one was injured.

Passengers said they had felt the carriage shaking for a few minutes before hearing a big bang, and then feeling it crush in on them.

Trenord is the regional train company serving the Lombardy region.

It is notorious among passengers for dirty, packed carriages and frequent delays. On social media, it was ridiculed for tweets blaming delays into Milan on a "technical inconvenience" involving a train.

A piece of the track appeared broken, and officials said a wheel had sustained damage, though the cause was under investigation.

Television images showed injured survivors being evacuated, the more serious receiving first aid in a field close by.

The crash halted train traffic into and out of Italy's financial capital for hours.

Emergency services said the cause of the derailment was not immediately clear.

A fire brigade official said it that up to five people could have died in the crash.

It was the latest serious incident involving Italy's ageing rail system in recent years.

In 2016, 23 people were killed when two trains collided on a single track in an olive grove in Puglia, south eastern Italy.

Seven years earlier in 2009, 32 people were killed when a freight train carrying liquefied petroleum gas derailed and exploded in Viareggio, in central Italy's Tuscany region.

© Daily Telegraph London

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