Worst train tragedy in Poland in years kills 16SZCZEKOCINY, Poland (AP) — Two trains running on the same track collided head-on in southern Poland in a shower of sparks, killing 16 people and injuring 58 in the country's worst train disaster in more than 20 years.
SZCZEKOCINY, Poland (AP) — Two trains running on the same track collided head-on in southern Poland in a shower of sparks, killing 16 people and injuring 58 in the country's worst train disaster in more than 20 years.
The crash near Krakow turned cars at the front of each train into heaps of mangled metal and toppled others on their sides. Neighbors in the town of Szczekociny alerted by what they said sounded like a bomb rushed to the scene to smash open windows, and survivors emerged in a state of shock, many crying out for help and carrying baggage.
Rescuers worked through the night to recover bodies and help the wounded.
One of the trains was on the wrong track. Maintenance work was being done on the tracks before the accident, but officials said it's too early to determine the cause of the disaster.
A woman living in a house about 200 meters (yards) from the site of the accident said she was standing at her window when the two trains collided, creating a "terrible, terrible noise — like a bomb going off."
"So I ran out of the house, and on one side I saw train lights and one the other side I saw train lights, and in the middle sparks," Anna Sap said. "People from the train starting crying, 'Help, help!' So we and the neighbors ran to them. Some of them smashed windows to let them out."
Her husband Grzegorz Sap added that people began emerging from the train "with hand luggage and in shock. They had no idea where they were."
An unnamed passenger interviewed on the all-news station TVN24 said he felt the force of the collision.
"I hit the person in front of me. The lights went out. Everything flew," he said. "We flew over the compartment like bags. We could hear screams. We prayed."
The U.S. consulate in Krakow said an American woman was among the dead and her family had been informed. Spokesman Benjamin Ousley said he could give no more information and that Polish authorities would release further details at a later point.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk earlier had said that several of the passengers were foreigners, including people from Ukraine, Spain and France, but none of them were among the dead or mostly seriously injured.
President Bronislaw Komorowski visited the site Sunday, saying that when rescue efforts are over he would make an announcement about a period of national mourning.
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