At least 10 people were killed and approximately 80 injured when two trains collided during Tuesday morning’s rush hour in the southern German state of Bavaria.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt suggested a system designed to automatically brake trains if they've accidentally ended up on the same track didn't seem to have functioned properly.
Dobrindt, however, said it was too early to draw conclusions.
"The site is on a curve, we have to assume that the train drivers had no visual contact and hit each other without braking," Dobrindt told reporters in Bad Aibling, near the crash scene, adding that speeds of up to 100 kph (60 mph) were possible on the stretch.
Federal Police Spokesman Stefan Brandl said the stretch of line on which the two trains crashed is squeezed between the Mangfall river on one side and a forest on the other in rough terrain, which complicated rescue operations.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "dismayed" over the collision.
"I am dismayed and saddened by the serious train accident this morning at Bad Aibling," Merkel said in a statement. "My sympathy goes out especially to the families of the nine people who have lost their lives."
Train partially derailed
Regional rail company Bayerische Oberlandbahn said in a statement that the accident occurred on the single-track route between Rosenheim and Holzkirchen at around 7am.
The company also said the trains of the so-called Meridian train line both partially derailed and were wedged into each other.
Nine people were reported dead immediately while a tenth died later in hospital, police spokesman Stefan Sonntag said, adding that the two train drivers were thought to be among the dead and one person was still missing in the wreckage.
German police said all survivors had been recovered from the wreckage site and taken to hospitals across Bavaria for treatment.
Reporting from Berlin, FRANCE 24 correspondent Sarah Harman said that victims of the crash had not yet been identified.
Black boxes found
Germany is known for the quality of its train service, but the country has seen several other accidents, typically at road crossings.
Most recently, a train driver and one passenger were killed and 20 people injured when a train hit the trailer of a tractor in western Germany in May.
In 2011, 10 people were killed and 23 injured in a head-on collision of a passenger train and a cargo train on a single-line track close to Saxony-Anhalt's state capital Magdeburg in eastern Germany.
Germany's worst train accident happened in 1998, when a high-speed ICE train crashed in the northern German town of Eschede, killing 101 people and injuring more than 80.
Dobrindt said an investigation was underway to determine if it Tuesday’s accident had been caused by a technical or human error.
Black boxes from both trains had been recovered and are now being analyzed, he added.
German police would not comment on a local media report citing an anonymous source that authorities believed human error might be at fault.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
Date created : 2016-02-09