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Death toll from Danish train collision rises to eight

Thursday, 3 January, 2019 - 18:21

Danish police announced on Thursday that eight people were killed in the train crash yesterday on the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark, which connects the two largest islands of Funen and Zealand, in the east.

A previous assessment, given Tuesday, reported 6 dead. The police examined the train and found two other dead people, police said Wednesday in a statement. Sixteen others were seriously injured.

The incident occurred around 7:30 on Wednesday morning. Railway traffic was completely halted on the mile-long bridge  and road traffic suspended for several hours. The train, headed for the capital, Copenhagen, with 131 passengers and three staff on board, struck an object falling from a freight train that was traveling in the opposite direction, on the bridge swept by strong winds.

The object in question was a trailer from a lorry, according to Bo Haaning, one of the investigators. “A trailer transported on a wagon seems to have fallen. It hit the train, or the train hit it,”he told the Danish public radio DR.

The drivers of the two trains involved are questioned by investigators, who are also examining the video surveillance of the bridge, according to the police. Divers were  mobilised in the waters below the bridge to look for possible clues.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen offered his condolences to the families of the victims, referring to “ordinary Danes en route to work or returning home after the holidays”.

According to the Reuters news agency, emergency service access to the train has been complicated by weather conditions. Strong winds have swept across part of Scandinavia since Tuesday night, causing power cuts as well as bridge closures and ferry cancellations. The Great Belt consists of a series of structures: a suspended road bridge and a rail tunnel between the island of Zealand and the small island of Sprogo, as well as a road and rail bridge between Sprogo and Fyn.

This is the worst railway accident in Denmark since 1988, when eight people were killed and 72 injured in the derailment of a high-speed train in Soro.

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