Sunday 20 October 2019

High-speed train crash kills nine, injures 47

Fatal accident: Smashed carriages after the crash near Ankara. Photo: IHA via AP
Fatal accident: Smashed carriages after the crash near Ankara. Photo: IHA via AP

Catherine Royale in Paris

Nine people were killed and nearly 50 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital Ankara yesterday.

Transport Minister Cahit Turhan said three of those killed were operators of the train.

One of the victims died in hospital, he added.

Mr Turhan added 47 people were injured and were in hospital for treatment.

The fast train had been on its way from Ankara's main station to the central province of Konya and, according to 'Hurriyet' newpaper, there were 206 passengers on board.

"This morning there was an accident after the 6.30 high-speed train to Konya hit a locomotive tasked with checking rails on the same route," Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said.

Mr Turhan said the accident took place six minutes after the train left Ankara as it entered the Marsandiz station.

The governor said search and rescue efforts continued as "technical investigations" were under way to find out exactly what caused the crash.

He said information about the cause of the crash would be shared with the public when it was known.

Images published by Turkish media showed some wagons had derailed and debris from the train scattered on the rail track, which was covered in snow.

Signal problems: Engineers’ union tweeted: ‘The accident is murder’. Photo: REUTERS/Tumay Berkin
Signal problems: Engineers’ union tweeted: ‘The accident is murder’. Photo: REUTERS/Tumay Berkin

One wagon had been smashed after hitting the footbridge, which also collapsed.

It was also reported that Ankara's public prosecutor had launched an investigation.

In a tweet (in Turkish), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects quoted its chairman Yunus Yener as saying that "signalling problems" had been flagged on the line "for some time".

It added: "The accident is murder!"

The Ankara to Konya high-speed route was launched in 2011 and was followed in 2014 with a high-speed link between Ankara and Istanbul.

The accident comes after another rail disaster in July this year when 24 people were killed and hundreds more injured after a train derailed in Tekirdag province, north-west Turkey, due to ground erosion following heavy rains.

Turkey's rail network has been hit by several fatal accidents in recent years.

In March 2014, a commuter train smashed into a minibus on a railway track in the southern Turkish province of Mersin, which left 10 dead.

In January 2008, nine people were killed when a train derailed in the Kutahya region south of Istanbul because of faulty tracks.

Turkey's worst rail disaster in recent history was in July 2004 when 41 people were killed and 80 injured after a high-speed train derailed in the north-western province of Sakarya.

Irish Independent

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