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Guardian angel saves Swiss tourist train from catastrophe

August 15, 2014 Headline News, Rail No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Eleven people, including an Australian woman, were injured when a passenger train travelling from St Moritz to Chur in eastern Switzerland was partially derailed by a landslide.

Trees prevented one carriage from hurtling into a ravine, and terrified passengers described how they crowded into the rear of the carriage in a desperate – and successful – bid to prevent it from tipping over the edge.

Some 140 people were aboard the train, operated by the Rhaetian Railway company, the Swiss news site Swissinfo.ch reported. Eight Swiss and two Japanese are also among the injured. Their injuries were reported yesterday not to be life threatening. Most passengers walked to safety from the unnamed (11)crash site.

The line, which serves the popular tourist region of Upper Engadine, will be closed for at least two days. Travellers have been advised to expect longer journey times.

The accident occurred in a steep wooded valley near Tiefencastel. The train emerged from a tunnel, only to slam into a landslide covering the tracks. The impact derailed three carriages.

One carriage, saved from falling further by trees, came to rest 10 metres down the slope, pointing downwards. A major rescue operation was launched, with 180 emergency personnel and four helicopters.  After walking along the tracks, uninjured passengers were brought to the village of Tiefencastel, some of them suffering from shock.

Parliamentarian and board member of Rhaetian Railway Stefan Engler was one of the first to reach the scene. He told the Swiss News Agency that “a guardian angel” had been protecting the train and that luck had played an important role in the accident.

The landslide followed extremely several weeks of heavy rainfall.

Just two days earlier, three tourists from Israel were killed when a train smashed into their van at an unmanned level crossing near Lucerne, central Switzerland.

Edited by : Peter Needham

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