- Title: GERMANY: High-tech German train crash kills twenty three
- Date: 23rd September 2006
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF TRAIN'S OPERATING AUTHORITY IABG, RUDOLPH SCHWARZ, SAYING: "Unfortunately nothing new. I came here this afternoon from Munich as quickly as possible and we visited the site of the accident. We looked the whole series of events, and how the series of events should have run, there is a series of rules that has to be followed and for almost 20 years that has only been improved and has been adhered to and what we still cannot explain is how this came to be. We cannot say what the cause is, we can only guess at the moment. There are recordings of what the system was doing, and also the communications between the control centre, the people in the special vehicle and in the elevated vehicle were recorded, that means that these communications will be available on tape and they will certainly help with clarification."
- Reuters ID: LVA1EMLY3K80GKO4XP0HQA8UH3OM
- Location: Germany
- Country: Germany
- Duration: 00:01:07
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Story Text: A high tech magnetic train smashed into a maintenance vehicle on a test run in northern Germany on Friday, killing 23 people, authorities said.
The elevated Transrapid, one of the world's fastest trains, collided with a maintenance truck and its two-man crew at a speed of at least 200 km per hour (120 miles per hour) on the track in the Emsland district of Germany near the Dutch border.
A police spokesman said that they had found 23 dead, and there were 10 injured who would be taken care of in hospital, whose lives were not in danger.
Another official said the rescue operation was over.
The emergency services were still active at the scene after dark, as they continued to check the wreckage.
Flowers and candles had also been placed at the scene.
The Head of the train's operating authority IABG, Rudolph Schwarz, said that a series of rules had to be adhered in the event of such an occurrence, but stated that the cause of the accident was still unclear. "There are recordings of what the system was doing, and also the communications between the control centre, the people in the special vehicle and in the elevated vehicle were recorded, that means that these communications will be available on tape and they will certainly help with clarification," Schwarz said.
Schwarz said he regretted the deaths of three employees and of the passengers, but praised the work of the emergency services during the day.
Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to the crash site late in the afternoon. At a news conference she expressed her and her government's sympathy for the relatives of the victims.
The passengers were acquaintances of Transrapid workers and employees of utility group RWE.
The train's operating authority, IABG, said initial findings suggested the crash had been the result of human error. It said it had found no evidence of any technical failure.
The costly train, which set a speed record of 450 kph in 1993, was developed by Transrapid International, a joint venture between German industrial firms Siemens AG and ThyssenKrupp.
The crash occurred at around 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) on a 32-km (20 mile) figure-of-eight circuit built as a test facility for the train, which floats on a magnetic cushion.
Debris from the crash, including what appeared to be parts of the roof and upholstery from the interior of the train, strewn for around 300 metres (yards) along the sides of the elevated track.
The train, which rides on a track supported by concrete stilts around five metres above ground, was not derailed in the accident, officials said, but its height made rescue difficult.
Travelling at three times the speeds of normal steel-wheel trains, the "mag-lev" Transrapid floats on a magnetic cushion one cm (half an inch) above the track. It has no fuel source on board and its makers have said that it cannot derail.
A generation of German engineers have been testing the sleek white train, which has the potential to drastically reduce journey times, since the late 1960s.
Despite numerous proposals for its use across the world, the only train of its kind in commercial use is as a shuttle from the centre of the Chinese city of Shanghai to its airport.
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