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2 passenger train wagons derail in the Alps after landslide

Published time: August 13, 2014 12:28
Edited time: August 13, 2014 17:59
This handout picture taken and released by the police of the Canton of Graubuenden on August 13, 2014 shows rescuers working near a train after it was derailed by a landslide near Tiefencastel, in a mountainous part of eastern Switzerland, on August 13, 1014. (AFP Photo)

This handout picture taken and released by the police of the Canton of Graubuenden on August 13, 2014 shows rescuers working near a train after it was derailed by a landslide near Tiefencastel, in a mountainous part of eastern Switzerland, on August 13, 1014. (AFP Photo)

Eleven people have been injured, five of whom are in a serious condition, after a passenger train in Switzerland was derailed by a landslide, following heavy rain. One carriage is perilously hanging over a ravine.

The derailment happened in the Graubuenden region near Tiefencastel, in the east of the country, Switzerland’s ATS news agency reported. The train was traveling from Chur to St. Moritz and is operated by the Rhaetain railway company, with around 140 people on board. The remaining passengers were able to walk away to safety.

An eyewitness told the Swiss paper, Blick that up to ten people were in the carriage which slipped down the ravine.

Peter Faerber, a police spokesman in the area, said some people were slightly injured in the accident but he could not immediately say how many. Some of the passengers were airlifted from the vicinity by helicopter.

However, the police did say that two of the injured were Japanese and one was Australian.

Another police spokesman, Daniel Zinsli also added that the incident occurred at about 13:00 local time and said it was difficult to get to the area by road. Four helicopters are at the scene, while the fire brigade, police and ambulance crews are trying to get there. Two carriages have been derailed, one has slid down a revine, while another is hanging periously over it.

“This summer we have had a number of landslides due to such heavy rainfall we experience in July,” said Arthur Sandri, who is the head of the Federal Department for Landslides, Avalanches and Forestry, told 20 minutes. “The large amount of water saturated the soil making it much heavier and it eventually could not take the pressure.”

Rescuers work near a train after it was derailed by a landslide near Tiefencastel, in a mountainous part of eastern Switzerland, on August 13, 1014. (AFP Photo)

In the 12 hours before the accident took place, between 50 and 60 liters of rain fell per square meter, a spokesman from MetroSwiss, the country’s national weather service said. This was “an extraordinary amount.” This amount corresponds to around half the average rainfall in August.

This latest incident comes two days after three people were killed in a separate train crash, which occurred after a passenger train collided with a minivan in central Switzerland, according to police from Nidwalden.

Those who died were travelling in the car as their vehicle tried to cross a level crossing without a barrier. Another five people were seriously injured, with all the victims coming from Israel.

A spokesman from the Zentralbahn train company said no one was injured on the train, the 20 Minuten newspaper reported. The injured tourists were transported to the hospital by helicopter and ambulance.