Six killed in train crash on bridge linking Denmark’s two main islands
Train en route to Copenhagen crashed after freight trailer blown into its path
Six people were killed when a passenger train hit a freight trailer that had blown off a wagon coming the other way on a bridge linking Denmark’s two main islands on Wednesday.
The train with 131 passengers on board was towards the capital, Copenhagen, when it hit the trailer. Apart from the dead, 16 people were injured but were not in critical condition, police said.
The incident happened shortly before 7.35 am (6.35am Irish time) during a severe storm that hampered the rescue operation on the 18km Great Belt Bridge between Zealand and Funen, Denmark’s two major islands. The train was travelling from Odense, on Funen.
“This morning’s tragic accident on the Great Belt Bridge with many killed and wounded has shaken us all,” Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen tweeted.
“Ordinary Danes on their way to work or on the way home from Christmas holidays have had their lives shattered,” he said.
A preliminary investigation by the Danish Accident Investigation Board showed a trailer had blown off a freight wagon onto the oncoming tracks, a spokesman said.
“There was a very, very loud bang and then the train stopped,” a witness who had been onboard the train with his daughter told broadcaster TV2.
Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven blamed the weather. “Terrible train accident on the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark as a result of the storm Alfrida. Our thoughts are with the injured and with the families and relatives of the dead,” he tweeted.
TV footage showed a severely damaged freight trailer adorned with the logo of Danish beer maker Carlsberg. Crates of beer could be seen inside.
A train operated by DB Cargo, the logistics arm of Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, which carries goods from Carlsberg’s Fredericia brewery to Copenhagen, was involved in the incident, a Carlsberg spokesman said.
Photographs from the scene show the freight train was carrying crates of beer, and the tarpaulin that covered the train was torn in pieces.
Police said those hurt sustained light to moderate injuries. Jesper Nielsen, who was on the passenger train, told TV2 the train “was out on the bridge when there was a huge ‘bang’... very quickly thereafter, the train braked”.
DB Cargo was on site and “doing its utmost to support the investigation”, Deutsche Bahn said in a statement. A spokesman said the trailers were fastened to the railcars with metal rods, a system in use across Europe.
The bridge remained closed for trains while car traffic in both directions resumed. Danish rail operator Banedanmark said it did not expect rail traffic by to resume before Thursday.