Many injured in Israeli train collision

At least three people were killed and about 75 more injured on Monday when a train collided with a truck stuck on the line at a rail junction near the Israeli coastal city of Netanya.

Four carriages, including the driver’s cabin, were forced off the rails by the impact of the collision as the train travelled between the commercial capital, Tel Aviv, and the main northern port city of Haifa.

Rescuers from the fire service, backed up by soldiers, could be seen using metal cutters to gain access to the handful of passengers who had not been able to make their own way out of the carriages. The vast majority had managed to walk away unscathed.

Police said three people died as a result of the accident. A spokesperson for the Magen David Adom ambulance service said 75 others were injured.

“There are four to five people still stuck inside the main carriage and our teams are now giving them first aid support,” Alon Fridman said at the scene.

A total of 57 ambulances had rushed to the scene after reports of the crash were first received.

Although medical sources had initially spoken of more than 150 people being wounded, it soon became apparent that the vast majority were suffering either from shock or minor injuries.

Fridman said the rescue services were able to react rapidly to the emergency as they were already on a state of readiness over fears of a possible attack by Palestinian militants wanting to avenge the recent deaths of eight civilians on the Gaza Strip seafront.

“We are on red alert all week after the events in Gaza, so we had a lot of staff that were ready,” he said.

One of the carriages had careered up the railway verging, while another teetered on its side.

The rescue services said that more than 40 injured had been evacuated to the hospitals of Laniado and Hillel Yaffe in Tel Aviv, which is about 30km from Netanya.
The others were treated at the scene.

Eyewitnesses said that passengers who were trapped inside the carriages had to smash the windows in order to get out of the vehicles.

The website of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper quoted sources in the Israel Railways authority as saying that inspectors had warned the train conductors shortly before the crash that the truck had crossed the barrier, but there was not enough time to bring the train to a halt.

Apart from a fleet of ambulances, fire engines were also dispatched to the scene in order to douse ground over fears that leaking fuel could ignite.

The accident was the most serious in Israel since June last year when eight people were killed and more than 100 injured near the town of Kiryat Gat in southern Israel.

That accident was also caused by the collision of a commuter train with a lorry that had become stuck on the line.—Sapa-AFP

Jennie Matthew

Jennie Matthew

Matthews is an AFP New York correspondent. Previously in Pakistan/Afghanistan, Sudan and Middle East Read more from Jennie Matthew

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