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Trains collide, kill seven and injure dozens in Austria

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

WAMPERSDORF, Austria -- Two freight trains collided near a village station south of Vienna on Tuesday, killing at least seven people and injuring more than a dozen, some critically, railway officials said.

Six bodies had been recovered by early evening, and the officials said rescue crews could see another trapped by twisted metal.

One survivor pinned by the wreckage was freed after about three hours and taken to hospital.

Railway officials said 15 people were believed hurt, including four in comas.

One of the trains was not supposed to be on the track, railway officials said without providing more details.

The mid-afternoon accident occurred about 400 yards outside the station in the village of Wampersdorf, 22 miles south of Vienna.

One of the engines was pulling about 20 carriages, each transporting a tractor-trailer truck from the city of Wels to the Hungarian city of Sopron, just south of the Austrian border, said railway officials. Most of the victims appeared to be Hungarian truck drivers who were riding in a separate car behind those carrying their vehicles. Their wagon lay on its side near the tracks, its front partially torn off.

The other train, which had little visible damage, was not supposed to have been on the track at the time of the collision, railway officials said.

"I was able to take a deep breath and then it was too late," to do anything else as the two trains impacted, driver Csaba Lanyi, his head bandaged, told state television from his hospital bed.

Helicopters and ambulances shuttled the injured to Viennese and regional hospitals. More than 200 police, fire department and other rescue workers converged on the scene.

The rescue was being hampered because jaws of life and other equipment available was meant to extricate car accident victims and not to cut through the thicker metal of the railway cars, an unidentified fire department official told state television.


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