Studénka - Seven people were killed and around 35 injured during one of the worst train accidents in the Czech Republic in the living memory.
The international EuroCity express train, travelling from the Polish city of Krakow to the Czech capital Prague, crashed at nearly full speed into a collapsed bridge obstructing the railway near the town of Studénka close to the Moravian city of Ostrava, some 400 kilometres east of Prague.
"I can confirm six people died on the spot and 35 people were injured," spokesman of the local rescue service Petr Kůdela told Aktuálně.cz on Friday afternoon. Five Czech citizens (three women and two men) lost their lives in the crash together with a woman from Poland. The seventh victim was a Ukrainian man who died of his injuries after he had been transported to hospital in Nový Jičín.
"We hope we have pulled out all the passangers," added Kůdela. At the moment, the rescue team is searching through the train wreck with the help of rescue dogs to make sure no one has stayed inside.
Initially, the estimates were ten people killed and 100 injured in the crash.
Emergency services in the area were running at their maximum capacity, having sent all ambulances from all the neighboring cities to the crash site.
"Two helicopters, thirty fire brigade units and ambulances from the cities of Ostrava, Opava and Vítkov came to help," said spokesperson of Nový Jičín police Miroslava Michálková-Šálková.
The dramatic situation prevailed also in nearby hospitals. Ostrava´s hospital admitted about twenty injured passangers. "Some injuries are light, but some are rather grave,"spokesman of Ostrava's hospital Tomáš Oborný told Aktuálně.cz
Shortly after the train crash, Ostrava´s hospital launched what they called the traumatologic plan. They set up a regime which allowed the hospital to cope with a massive intake of patients. "Now the plan is no longer in operation," said Oborný later in the afternoon.
Ostrava´s hospital lacks blood for the injured patients, so the hospital officials urged the citizens of Ostrava to donate blood.
Olomouc´s hospital was very busy as well. "The helicopter brought a gravely injured man who had numerous fractures and was immediately operated. We mobilized extra staff to cope up with the situation," said the hospital spokesperson Egon Havrlant.
Nový Jičín´s hospital has admitted eight patients, says the hospital spokerswoman Simona Součková.
Evžen Tošenovský, Moravia-Silesian Region Governor, arrived at the site of the accident. "It is the biggest accident in 16 years. I have convened the crisis management and in the meantime I have informed PM Topolánek about it," Tošenovský told Aktuálně.cz.
Apart from PM Topolánek, his Polish counterpart Donald Dusk, Deputy PM Jiří Čunek (Christian Democrat) and Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček (Civic Democrat) left for Studénka too.
"The engine driver pulled the emergency brake lever and reduced the speed from 135 kilometres per hour to 122 kmph," said the deputy director of the Railway Inspection Jan Kučera. "It was not his fault, though, the train crashed into a collapsed bridge." hree wagons and the locomotive were derailed.
The bridge dates back to 1961. Its construction was in a very bad shape, therefore it has been under reconstruction since April this year.
Transport Company Ostrava (Dopravní podniky Ostrava, ODS) has been in charge of the reconstruction. ODS General Director Tomáš Vítek arrived at the site, too. "The company has not issued any official statement yet," said Vítek´s assistant to Aktuálně.cz.
The train was ten minutes delayed and it was exactly these ten minutes that became ominous for some of the passangers. The bridge fell only a few minutes before the train arrived.
"We were on our way to Prague to see the Iron Maiden concert like so many other people on this train," said Emil Richter from Orlová, evidently still in a state of shock.
"The wagon in front of our wagon was completely destroyed. I heard crying and screaming. There was a boy who was all buried under the debris. We tried to pull him out but it was impossible. And then the young woman, she was all naked and her body so deformed.. I cannot describe that," adds Emil Richter with tears in his eyes.
"The ambulances were here in five minutes," says Vítězslav Polák from Bohumín. He and his daughter were going to see Iron Maiden too.
"My daughter was in total shock, she could not move at all, so I had to pull her out. Then I tried to help all the others that I could," adds Vítězslav Novák.
See the crash site in the detailed map:
Diskuse: Train crash near Czech-Polish border claims seven lives