"We strengthen each other": Bavaria mourns the victims of a train accident

A week after the train derailment in Garmisch-Partenkirchen that killed five, families, friends and helpers commemorate the victims.

"We strengthen each other": Bavaria mourns the victims of a train accident

A week after the train derailment in Garmisch-Partenkirchen that killed five, families, friends and helpers commemorate the victims. Around 300 people seek consolation at a service in the town, which is in shock after the accident. All of Bavaria carries mourning flags.

A sea of ​​candles around a simple wooden cross in front of the altar - they light up for the victims of the train accident in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In the parish church of the Assumption of Mary, the Catholic and Protestant churches celebrate a moving service together with relatives, rescue workers and locals. The accident "brutally hit" people's lives, it was also a turning point for the town, says the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, in the church, which was occupied by 300 people.

The service is an expression of sadness and dismay, "but also an expression of our hope". "We stand before God with empty hands. But he can fill them with his consolation," says Marx, who organizes the service with the evangelical regional bishop Christian Kopp. "You now have to live with the fact that you were there on June 3, 2022 - and that your world is different now," Kopp said to relatives and survivors, rescue workers and other helpers in the church. "Sometimes a storm sweeps through life that wants to destroy everything," says Kopp, who himself lost a son just a year ago. "The swath that this storm of misfortune has cut through life isn't just growing over quickly." This service could be a small plant. "Together we are here and we strengthen each other. It's only possible together. And other things will grow in your life and mine."

At noon on June 3, a regional train bound for Munich derailed. On the last day before the Pentecost holidays, it was also occupied by many students. A 13-year-old from the region, a 51-year-old from Wiesbaden and a 70-year-old woman from the Munich district died - and two 30 and 39-year-old mothers from Ukraine who had fled the war with their children. Sung prayers in Ukrainian speak of the fate of these women and their children, who are now orphans.

Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann addresses this particular tragedy. It was women "who hoped for security in our country and just died here." He expresses his condolences to the victims' families and thanks the rescue workers, including many volunteers - who could have saved the lives of those who were seriously injured with their quick action. It was 750 that helped to the limit of capacity, says the interior minister. Many of the helpers in uniform sit in the church and, like the other visitors, set up a burning tea light after the service.

State buildings throughout Bavaria carry mourning flags. Flowers are a reminder of the accident at the scene of the accident - where the locomotive and a wagon are still standing on the tracks, right next to the main road to Garmisch-Partenkirchen: an unmistakable sign for the day-trippers who are flocking again in great numbers when the weather is bright. Already salvaged chassis and completely smashed wagons as well as parts of rails are secured.

When looking for the cause, the focus is on a technical defect. The public prosecutor's office is investigating an initial suspicion of negligent homicide against three Deutsche Bahn employees. The almost 50 employees of the Soko "platoon" of the police continue to work at full speed to clarify the reasons for the accident. The railway has started to repair the tracks north of the accident site in order to transport the locomotive and the last wagon away. The tracks are still not released to the south.

While railway workers are busy at the scene of the accident, visitors to the parish church are fighting back tears. "Take the victims of the devastating train accident in your loving hands and give strength, love and confidence to the bereaved," someone wrote in the intercession book.

Kopp says: "Many suffer with those who mourn the dead. Those who miss them. So many feel with the injured and their distress. And pray for their recovery and hope for it." The cause of the accident has not yet been fully clarified, says Interior Minister Herrmann - and "the tearful questions as to why our boy, especially our mother, cannot be answered technically anyway."

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