Studénka train accident
|Studénka train accident|
|Date||August 8, 2008|
|Time||09:30 (8:30 GMT)|
|Rail line||Česká Třebová – Bohumín (line nr. 270)|
|Type of incident||Crash into a collapsed bridge|
|Trains||EC 108 Comenius (Kraków – Prague)|
|Damage||136 million CZK|
The Studénka train accident was a rail accident that happened on August 8, 2008 near Studénka, Moravian-Silesian Region, Czech Republic, at approximately 09.30 local time (8.30 GMT). The EuroCity train EC 108 Comenius was an express train en route from Kraków, Poland to Prague, Czech Republic that struck a part of a motorway bridge that had fallen onto the railroad track near Studénka railway station in the Czech Republic. The train derailed and eight people were killed with 64 others injured.
The motorway bridge near Studénka railroad station was undergoing repairs that were to last until September 2008. On August 8 the workers were putting a beam to span between the two supports on the sides of the railroad track. Parts of the beam fell onto the track when the train was 452 meters away, approaching the bridge at around 135 km/h (84 mph). The driver noticed the iron bridge carcass swaying and immediately engaged the fast brake and escaped from the control cab to the engine room, which is much better protected against impact. This behavior was later recognized by the Czech Railways inspectors as exactly what drivers should do in this kind of situation. It was said that there is a very high probability that this conduct saved his life. The train struck the obstacle within just a few seconds, by which time the train had slowed to 90 km/h (56 mph). The locomotive and four carriages derailed after the impact, the carriage coupled directly behind the locomotive sustained the most damage. Six other carriages, among them the restaurant carriage, remained on the track. Three freight vans on another track were also derailed. At the time of the accident, there were approximately 400 people on board the train, 105 of them of Polish nationality. There was also a group of people travelling to an Iron Maiden concert in Prague.
Since the accident happened during the day and there were people present in the proximity of the track, the rescue units were notified about the situation almost instantly. The first rescue unit, which consisted of firefighters stationed in Studénka, arrived at the accident site only seven minutes after the alarm was issued. There were a total of 20 firefighter rescue units (altogether 100 firefighters and 40 firefighter engines) rescuing the passengers. Twenty ambulances together with helicopters transported the injured into all the nearest hospitals in Ostrava, Nový Jičín, Frýdek-Místek, Opava, Bílovec, Olomouc and Valašské Meziříčí. Thanks to cooperation within the Integrated rescue system (Integrovaný záchranný systém), all the injured were in the hospitals within two hours of the accident. Polish authorities offered help with the rescue operation immediately when notified about the disaster but it was not accepted as not necessary in the circumstances.
Immediately after the accident there was a great public uproar about finding the culprits. First accused was the Czech Railways company for letting trains travel at relatively high speeds in the construction area. However, the Czech Railways spokesman stated that the building company had not notified the Czech Railways about the ongoing reconstruction of the bridge. The building company Dopravní stavby Ostrava was also accused of being responsible for the accident. The spokesman for the company stated that the causes of the falling bridge parts onto the track were being investigated and that all the compulsory notifications to the Czech Railways about the reconstruction of the bridge had definitely been issued.
Two Czech men, three Czech women and a Polish woman were killed in the crash, while the seventh victim, a young Ukrainian man, died later in hospital. The eighth fatality, a 21 year old Polish woman, died two months after the disaster on September 26.
The cost of the damage was estimated at 136 million CZK (5.6 million Euros, 8.4 million US dollars), according to the Czech Railways Rail Safety Inspection announcement. The Czech Railways company promised to pay compensation to everyone injured as well as to families of the dead. The amount of money paid would then vary depending on individual circumstances of every case.
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