Israeli train collision kills seven

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

REVADIM, Israel -- A passenger train collided with a coal delivery truck in a remote field in central Israel Tuesday, killing at least seven people and injuring nearly 200. Police said the crash appeared to be an accident.

Passengers were thrown from the train cars. Three train cars derailed and were left mangled and twisted wrecks. Splinters of metal were strewn on the side of the tracks, some dozens of yards away.

Helicopters arrived to help transport the injured, and rescuers climbed over the train seats in their efforts to pull the wounded out of the trains.

The collision happened in a field off the main road, near the town of Revadim, about 25 miles south of Tel Aviv. Rescue workers said they had a difficult time moving the wounded to the ambulances over rough terrain.

"It took about 15 to 20 minutes for rescue services to arrive. We felt really helpless. All we could see around us was fields. We had no idea where we were," said Daphna Arad, a reporter for Army Radio who was on the train. "Soldiers (who had been on the train) took out their bandages and began to treat the injured as much as possible."

The train, carrying 300 to 400 people from Tel Aviv to Beersheba, was traveling as fast as 80 mph when it hit the truck at about 6 p.m. on a remote section of the track that contained a crossing but no traffic light, said Avi Zohar, a spokesman for the Magen David Adom rescue services.

Israeli police said five were dead at the scene and two others died in hospitals. Also, 191 were treated for injuries.

"I approached a woman who looked all right but had slipped on the floor, and she said she was pregnant and was very worried about her baby. I looked for an old man who had been sitting next to me and I saw that half his head was coated in blood," she told Israel's Channel Two TV.

The train, carrying 300 to 400 people from Tel Aviv to the southern city of Beersheba, was traveling as fast as 80 mph when it hit the coal delivery truck about 6 p.m. on a remote section of the track that contained a crossing but no traffic light, said Avi Zohar, a spokesman for the Magen David Adom rescue services.

The truck weighed about 40 tons, he said.

Israeli police said five were dead at the scene and two others died in hospitals. Also, 191 people were treated for injuries, police spokeswoman Anat Gil-Zuberi said. Israel TV also reported that a female soldier was in critical condition.

Authorities said the crash appeared to be an accident and there was no reason to suspect it was an intentional attack.

"Hospitals are responding as if it was a terror attack with multiple victims," Health Minister Dan Naveh said.

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