Cause Sought in German Train Crash

Cause Sought in German Train Crash

BAD AIBLING, Germany (AP) -- As emergency workers started removing the wreckage, German police said Wednesday they are no longer looking for a missing person in the head-on train crash that killed 10 people and injured dozens in southern Germany.

Police spokesman Stefan Sonntag said authorities came to that conclusion after contacting all hospitals in the rural region.

Authorities are trying to determine why multiple safety measures failed, allowing two trains to travel on the same single-line track and smash into each other in Bad Aibling in Bavaria. They are considering both possible technical errors and human failure.

At the scene, 40 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of Munich, a huge crane was brought in Wednesday to start moving away the wreckage from the tracks — a job the German news agency dpa reported that it would take two days. About 100 emergency workers were helping with the removal.

On the investigation front, the German transport ministry said the trains' black boxes had to be analyzed, witnesses had to be interrogated and the timeline of how the accident had taken place had to be reconstructed. Both the government's train accident investigation office and local prosecutors are looking into the cause of the crash.

Sonntag said investigators were also still working on identifying the victims.

Officials said it was not clear for how long the train line between Holzkirchen and Rosenheim would be out of commission. The operator, Bayerische Oberlandbahn, offered bus services for passengers instead.

The trains crashed on a stretch of track running between a river and a forest. Although the first rescue crews were on the scene in minutes Tuesday morning, it took hours for all survivors to be airlifted and shuttled by boat across the river to waiting ambulances.

The two trains were supposed to pass one another at a station where the track was divided, and a safety system installed on much of Germany's labyrinthine rail network was supposed to automatically brake trains that end up on the same track heading toward each other, authorities said.

Instead, the two trains slammed into one another on a curve, meaning that their engineers wouldn't have seen each other until it was too late.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said safety systems on the stretch where the crash occurred had been checked as recently as last week.

(KA)