Netherlands: a train hits a crane, one dead and around 30 injured

A passenger train slammed into a crane early Tuesday before derailing near The Hague, Netherlands, killing a worker and injuring around 30 people in the country's worst rail crash in years

Netherlands: a train hits a crane, one dead and around 30 injured

A passenger train slammed into a crane early Tuesday before derailing near The Hague, Netherlands, killing a worker and injuring around 30 people in the country's worst rail crash in years.

The double-decker train from Leiden to The Hague, with around 50 passengers on board, derailed from the track near the village of Voorschoten at around 03:30 a.m. (0130 GMT), partly ending up in a field.

It is a 'miracle' that there were not more fatalities in the accident, involving a crane which was on the tracks for maintenance work on two of the four tracks, also hit by a train goods, said the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure.

King Willem-Alexander visited the scene, where he could see one of the wagons of the train carrying passengers lying in a meadow and three other wagons scattered on the tracks.

People living near the scene of the tragedy, about eight kilometers north of The Hague, helped the victims of the accident and allowed the emergency services to treat the injured at their homes.

"First we heard an explosion, then another much more intense one," Chris van Engelenburg, a 36-year-old resident, told AFP. "Then we heard people screaming," he added.

Another resident Jaron Ooms, 45, said he "heard a very loud bang and the house started shaking heavily".

An employee of the construction company BAM was killed, the company said, and 30 people were injured, nineteen of whom were taken to several hospitals while 11 were treated in nearby houses, emergency services said. .

A criminal investigation has been opened, the Dutch police and prosecutors said. Rail authorities and the country's safety board are also investigating the cause of the crash.

It's a "black day for Dutch railways" said John Voppen, boss of rail network company ProRail, who said maintenance work was underway on the track near Voorschoten.

"We really don't know what happened," Mr Voppen told a news conference.

"The damage is enormous," said NS director Wouter Koolmees. The driver of the passenger train was hospitalized with several broken bones, he added.

Emergency services described a "chaotic situation" with rescuers having to use wooden planks to cross a narrow canal, while assessing the dangerousness of damaged electrical cables.

Video taken by a passenger shows people using flashlights on cell phones to try to make their way through the emergency exits.

Wearing an orange vest, the king addressed the rescuers and inspected the wreckage of the train.

"I'm just speechless," he said near the train tracks, where the devastated crane involved in the crash lay further away, described as "terrible" by Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

No trains will run from Leiden to The Hague for the rest of Tuesday and traffic will remain halted in the area for several days, train operator NS said. But international Eurostar and Thalys connections from Amsterdam to Paris, Brussels and London were not affected.

It is the most serious accident in the Netherlands for years, according to Dutch public television NOS.

The worst rail disaster dates back to January 8, 1962 when two passenger trains collided in thick fog at Harmelen, near the central city of Utrecht, killing 93 and injuring 52.

In 2016, a train hit a construction crane in the center of the country, killing one and injuring six. In 2012, a train accident near Amsterdam also left one dead and 117 injured.

04/04/2023 17:10:11 -         Voorschoten (Pays-Bas) (AFP)  -         © 2023 AFP