A freight train crashed into a passenger train in the Moscow Region. Dozens of people are injured and at least six confirmed dead. Injured passengers were being carried out of the carriages by hand.
“Today at 12:38pm (08:38 GMT) a freight and a commuter train collided on the Bekasovo-Nara railroad near the regional center of Naro-Fominsk,” reported the transport police press service.
According to preliminary reports, six people were killed in the incident, one of them dying in hospital. All six victims were citizens of Moldova, said Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova.
Up to 45 passengers have been injured, 28 have been taken to hospitals, 15 of them are in a serious condition. Three of the injured are children.
“We now know about five dead,” confirmed the head of Naro-Fominsk Region Vadim Andronov. “It is possible that the number of dead and injured passengers will grow as one overturned passenger carriage has been blocked by a container from the freighter train, which now remains on top of it. Rescuers are entering the second damaged passenger carriage right now."
President Vladimir Putin said the government is doing everything possible to help those injured in the railway accident. He also vowed the families of those killed in the tragedy will get aid and the incident will be thoroughly investigated.
Health Minister of the Moscow Region Nina Suslova assured that all injured people will receive “all the necessary medical treatment.” Three helicopters are being used to help evacuate the injured, she said.
First Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said that 18 injured passengers in are in a critical condition in local hospitals, most of them suffering head trauma.
A preliminary evaluation maintains that the problem started when the frame of one of the freight carriages broke up, sending several of them off the rails. The passenger train passing on the next railway line was struck by them, completely tearing off a side wall of at least one passenger carriage.
The train drivers tried to bring the train to an emergency halt.
“We used the emergency brake application. Then we could see nothing because of the dust, we had zero visibility,” one of the train drivers told Rossiya 24 TV channel.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has indicated the cause of the crash as the breaking away of a cargo train container.
“The container got disconnected and scraped the oncoming Kishinev passenger train, damaging three cars,” Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The Committee also stated that there were track works close to the area where the crash happened.
The Moscow Region Transport Department was also investigating earlier if the crash was caused by a broken rail.
Semyon, an eyewitness to the crash site, told RT that the scene was full of ambulances coming and going following the crash, taking the injured to hospitals.
In all, 18 ambulances were evacuating injured from the crash site.
The freighter train has already been dragged away. Unharmed passengers from the passenger train were asked to return to their reserved seats so that they do not interfere with the rescue operation.
The passenger train was heading from Moscow to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.
The Interior Ministry’s press service reported of 394 tickets sold on the ill-fated Moscow-Chisinau train.
The freight train was carrying cargo from Renault's production facility in Romania. It belongs to a Ukrainian logistics company.
There was no head-on collision, yet 16 carriages of the freighter and three passenger carriages left the rails.
Russian Railways has deployed two maintenance parties, consisting of 45 repair personnel and 16 units of equipment, to put the carriages back on the rails and repair the railroad infrastructure.
Train movement on the Nara Bekasovo-1 stretch of the line where the crash happened has been fully restored, Russian Railways said in a statement.
In addition, local authorities have organized a bus service between stations to bypass the crash site. There are 70 buses operating on the route between Aprelevka and Nara.
Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov visited the crash site.
The passengers injured in train crash could receive up to 2 million rubles (about $57,000) compensation, says Andrey Yuryev the head of National Association of Liability Insurers.
The Moldovan Ministry of Transport maintains it has unconfirmed reports of nine dead in the crash.