RANGES-PRES-MARNAND: Two trains collided head-on on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) in western Switzerland, killing one of the drivers and injuring 35 passengers, at least five of them seriously.
The accident happened in Granges-pres-Marnand shortly before 7 p.m. (5 p.m. Manila time), according to regional police.
The force of the impact was clear from the mangled engines of the trains, which were wrapped together.
One train had been bound for Lausanne, some 38 kilometers (24 miles) to the south, while the other was travelling north from the same city.
A total of 46 passengers had been on board, all of them Swiss, police said.
Frantic efforts continued into early Tuesday to free one of the drivers, with whom there had been no contact since the crash.
But by 1:30 a.m. they had managed to extract his body from the cockpit of his train, using special equipment to cut through the wreckage.
Rescue teams deployed a heavy-lifting crane to remove the rest of the wreckage and clear the line, working under arc-lights set up to enable the operations to continue through the night.
Monday’s collision on what is one of the most popular and safest rail networks in Europe was the latest in a series of rail accidents on the continent.
It comes in the wake of Wednesday’s tragedy in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, which killed 79; and a crash near Paris two weeks ago that claimed seven lives.
Rescue workers, including medics and firefighters, had rushed to the scene from across the Broye region which includes Granges-pres-Marnand, as well as from neighboring cities.
A helicopter was scrambled by Switzerland’s airborne REGA rescue service, known abroad for saving lives in the Alps.
The helicopter and ambulances rushed the five seriously injured to a hospital in the nearby town of Payerne and south Lausanne.
Their injuries were not life-threatening however, police said.
In total, 26 people were taken to five separate hospitals, while those with lower-level injuries were treated on site by the emergency services and volunteer medics.
Traffic was interrupted between the towns of Moudon and Payerne, the national railway company CFF said.
It said both trains were operated by its regional service, a popular choice among commuters who work in the Lake Geneva hub of Lausanne.
Police experts, along with members of the Swiss accident investigation authority SESA, were on site to launch a probe into the causes of the crash, officials said.
A CFF spokeswoman said the two trains should have crossed at the station, thanks to a track system that allows them to pass one another.
It was not clear whether the collision could have been sparked by a delay to one of the trains, or one of them setting off too soon.
The accident echoed one in January at Neuhausen-am-Rheinfall in northern Switzerland, where two regional trains collided near a station.
Twenty-five people were slightly injured in that crash, caused by a failure to respect a signal.
Monday’s crash was Switzerland’s most serious since one in Zurich in 2003 which injured 45 people.