SWITZERLAND: FIREFIGHTERS BRING GOTTHARD TUNNEL BLAZE UNDER CONTROL AS SEARCH FOR BODIES CONTINUES
- Title: SWITZERLAND: FIREFIGHTERS BRING GOTTHARD TUNNEL BLAZE UNDER CONTROL AS SEARCH FOR BODIES CONTINUES
- Date: 27th October 2001
- Summary: (W3)AIROLO, SWITZERLAND (OCTOBER 26, 2001) (REUTERS) 1. SLV ST GOTTHARD TUNNEL NESTLING IN THE SWISS ALPS 0.07 2. SLV EMERGENCY VEHICLES OUTSIDE THE SOUTHERN END OF TUNNEL; POLICE OUTSIDE TUNNEL; LORRY DRIVING INTO TUNNEL WITH BUILDING MATERIALS TO TRY AND SHORE UP ROOF; EMERGENCY VEHICLES (4 SHOTS) 0.40 3. SLV PRESS CONFERENCE 0.44 4. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) HEAD OF POLICE TEAM IN THE AREA, ROMANO PIZZINI SAYING "The flames and the fire are under control. The temperatures at the moment are at a normal level, thirty to thirty degrees, so the technician teams can begin work in the area which is 200-250 metres from the point of the accident." 1.04 5. MV MEDIA 1.07 6. SLV REAR VIEWS OF BURNED VEHICLES IN TUNNEL; SLV MEDIA OUTSIDE TUNNEL (10 SHOTS) 2.02 7. SLV EMPTY TRAIN; SLV THREE CARS BOARDING TRAIN (5 SHOTS) 2.32 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Reuters ID: LVAD7QJU12TXU394YHR0R1GV0BRE
- Location: AIROLO, SWITZERLAND
- Country: Swaziland
- Duration: 00:02:33
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Firefighters finally brought the blaze in the
Gotthard Alpine road tunnel under control and were desperately
trying to recover more bodies of victims of Switzerland's
worst tunnel disaster.
A special train service able to transport vehicles over
the mountains has temporarily re-opened after being mothballed
for more than twenty years.
Some 128 people are still missing after Wednesday's
fire that killed at least 11 people. Rescue crews now aim to
reach the actual spot where a truck crash sparked the blaze.
There could be anywhere between 10 and 40 charred and
crushed vehicles at the heart of the disaster some 1.5 km (one
mile) from the southern end of the Gotthard tunnel, police say.
Rescue officials said the primary goal was to shore up the
tunnel's roof so that it was safe enough to reach the scene of
the accident where several vehicles melted in the heat.
A stretch of the roof collapsed in the inferno and
officials warned that the Alpine link could be cut for months,
severing a major artery linking Italy to northern Europe.
So choking were the fumes that some of those confirmed
dead had been overcome just metres (yards) from safety niches.
First the intense heat and smoke and then the threat of
further cave-ins along the 17-km (10-mile) tunnel had kept
emergency workers away from the spot where two trucks, one
carrying a load of tyres, collided head-on.
As the heat abated, officials said, props were being
placed under the roof to let rescue teams get to work.
Officials warned it could be months before the Gotthard
can be reopened, compounding transport problems Italy already
faced due to the closure of another tunnel through the Alps,
the Mont Blanc, shut since 1999 due to another horrific
Police chief Romano Piazzini said an investigation into
the cause of the accident could take a week, with a further
week needed to remove rubble and wreckage before repairs could
"The flames and the fire are under control. The
temperatures at the moment are at a normal level, 30 to 30
degrees, so the technician teams can begin work in the area
which is 200-250 metres from the point of the accident," he
Wednesday's accident came two and a half years after
flames engulfed the Mont Blanc tunnel when a truckload of
flour and margarine caught fire. Some 30 vehicles were
destroyed and the official death toll is put variously at 39
After being out of use for twenty years, a special
mountain train has started up again, to alleviate the traffic
problems from the town of Goeschenen at the northern end to
the village of Airolo in the south.
The special train can carry up to 70 cars from one side of
the Gotthard mountain over to the other side with the journey
taking around 15 minutes,
When the Gotthard tunnel was opened in 1980 , the special
train service was suspended.
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- Embargoed:11th November 2001 12:00