A passenger train rams a crane and derails in the Netherlands, killing one and injuring 19
Voorschoten, Netherlands — A passenger train crashed into a construction crane near The Hague in the early hours of Tuesday morning and derailed, throwing two wagons into a field next to the tracks. One person died and 19 were hospitalized, Dutch emergency services said.
Police launched an investigation to determine if a crime had been committed. Another independent investigation has been opened into the cause of the crash.
Television images showed people using makeshift bridges and ladders to cross a narrow drainage channel that runs alongside the rails to reach the stricken train in the dark. Many windows in the wagons were broken. It was not clear if this happened during the accident or as the passengers tried to escape.
Two of the bright yellow and blue wagons came to a halt across the tracks across the small canal and partly in a field. The front of the train was badly damaged. Other parts of the train were partially derailed.
Video from inside the train immediately after the crash showed chaotic scenes as passengers tried to get out of the wreckage in the dark.
The four-car passenger train was carrying about 50 passengers at the time of the crash.
John Voppen, CEO of rail network company Pro Rail, said both the passenger train and a freight train hit a crane that was being used for maintenance work. He said the crane is on tracks not used by train service and it is not clear how the trains collided with the crane.
“We don’t understand how this could have happened,” he told reporters at a news conference.
The identity of the person killed in the accident was not immediately released and it was not clear whether the person was on the train or part of the maintenance team that had been working on the rails between the cities of Leiden and The Hague at the time of the accident occurred around 3:25 local time in the town of Voorschoten.
Railway company NS also said in a statement that a passenger train, a freight train and a construction crane were involved in a collision, but the company gave no further details.
“Like everyone else, I’m full of questions and we want to know exactly what happened,” NS CEO Wouter Koolmees said in a statement. “A thorough investigation must be carried out. At the moment, all attention is focused on the welfare of our travelers and colleagues.”
The regional coordinator of emergency services said 11 of the injured passengers were treated at houses near the route and 19 were transported in a fleet of ambulances to five hospitals, including a “disaster hospital” that opened in downtown Utrecht.
“A terrible train crash near Voorschoten where unfortunately one person died and many people were injured. My thoughts are with the families and with all the victims. I wish them well,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a tweet.
The Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima also expressed their condolences in a tweet.
Ingrid de Roos, a spokeswoman for the local fire department, told the WNL news program that a small fire broke out at the end of the train but was quickly put out.