Three killed, dozens hurt in Czech train crash

Milavce (Czech Republic) (AFP) –


Three people died and dozens more were injured on Wednesday when two trains collided at a village in the west of the Czech Republic, according to railway officials.

The Munich-to-Prague express, number Ex 351 belonging to the German firm Die Laenderbahn, collided with a regional train coming from the opposite direction, between the Czech towns of Plzen and Domazlice.

Rescuers said two of the dead were Czech engine drivers, one of whom was operating the German train. The third victim was a female passenger on the regional train.

Several foreigners were travelling on the German train and some of them were among the injured, local media reported.

"Unfortunately, according to the latest information, a train collision... has killed three and left dozens of people injured," national rail operator Sprava zeleznic said on Twitter.

"All the passengers have been evacuated from the trains," the firm added.

National police said every passenger was accounted for, adding that the accident happened shortly after 8:00 am (0600 GMT) at Milavce.

Czech Republic
Czech Republic AFP

Earlier, rescuers said 31 people whose lives were not in danger were being treated and seven others were in a critical state.

According to footage shown on Czech public television, one part of the German train was completely mangled, though both vehicles remained upright.

Die Laenderbahn said in a statement that "the running of the train on the Czech side is the responsibility of the CD", the Ceske drahy, the state passenger train operator.

- 'Situation is serious' -

Czech Transport Minister Karel Havlicek said "the Ex 351 did not respect a signal... and crashed into the regional train".

"The situation is serious," Havlicek said as he headed to the scene of the accident.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis tweeted his "sincere condolences to the families of the dead. It is important to save other lives. Then everything must be investigated."

"Unfortunately, this summer is full of tragedies," he added.

Last month, a rare tornado tore through several Czech villages and towns, killing at least five people.

Four helicopters, several ambulances and dozens of rescuers were dispatched to the site.

"The German Red Cross, the Bavarian ambulance service and doctors from (the German city of) Cham are also at the scene of the rail accident," Czech police tweeted.

"German police have also offered assistance," they added.

Two train crashes in the Czech Republic in July last year left three people dead and dozens injured.