2 dead, 20 injured as train hits truck in western Germany

Workers are busy near the damaged train that hit a truck on a road crossing near Ibbenbueren, western Germany, Saturday, May 16, 2015. Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP

BERLIN – A train hit a truck Saturday on a road crossing in western Germany, killing two people and injuring at least 20 others, police said, adding that three of the injured were in severe condition.

Police spokesman Jochen Laschke said a regional train coming from the city of Osnabrueck and heading to the small town of Ibbenbueren collided with a farm truck with a tank full of manure. Laschke said the accident happened in a rural area near Ibbenbueren, 440 kilometres west of Berlin.

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According to the first investigators on the scene, the truck got stuck when trying to drive over the train tracks, he said. The train crashed into the truck and came to a stop 200 metres down the track. He said the truck driver was not injured.

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TV video footage showed part of the truck lying on one the side of the track, the manure tank on the other. The windows and metal parts of the train’s engine were torn away by the impact.

“The train was very crowded,” Laschke said. “We got an emergency call at 11:31 a.m. today and rescue team, firefighters and psychologists from all over the region were activated to help.”

The train was operated by a small private train company, Westfalenbahn, and not by national train operator Deutsche Bahn.

Germany is known for the quality of its train service but several other accidents have occurred recently at train crossings in Germany, killing six other people in 2015 alone before Saturday’s accident, according to the news agency dpa. Especially in rural areas, train crossings are often not blocked by barrier gates.

In recent months, the country’s usually reliable train connections have been hurt by several strikes by German train drivers who are in a dispute with Deutsche Bahn over pay and work conditions.

Germany’s worst train accident happened in 1998, when a high-speed ICE train crashed in the northern German town of Eschede, killing 101 people and injuring more than 80.

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