More than 50 people were injured when a train travelling from Munich to Prague crashed head-on with a regional commuter service about 30 miles from Pilsen in the Czech Republic
Three people were killed and more than 50 injured after two passenger trains collided head-on during the morning commute.
Both drivers and a woman, who was a passenger, were killed, and eight people were in a serious condition in hospitals in the Czech Republic, said officials.
Fire department commander Jaroslav Hrdlicka said earlier that rescue workers were looking for one missing person in the wreckage. That person, a driver, was later found dead.
Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlicek said one of the trains – a high-speed Western Express service travelling from Munich to Prague – ran through a stop signal shortly before the crash in the Czech countryside.
Passengers were thrown around when it slammed into a regional commuter train on a single-track line near the village of Milavce, close to the border with Germany, at about 8am local time on Wednesday.
Dozens of rescuers from the Czech Republic and Germany rushed to the scene to remove passengers from carriages and treat the injured, including many who suffered bumps, cuts and bruises.
One of the drivers who died was a German national.
At least one of the trains derailed, with video showing firefighters standing next to a severely-damaged driver’s cabin.
Ambulance service spokeswoman Maria Svobodova told iRozhlas as the tragedy unfolded: “The incident happened ten minutes after eight in the morning. Two trains collided.
“There are a large number of injured people on the site, so far we are still assessing them.
“At present, four helicopters, ten cars of the Pilsen rescue service and two from South Bohemia are at the scene.”
Domazlice’s hospital declared a critical incident, postponing all operations and vacating beds to cope with the arrival of injured passengers, it was reported.
A hospital in Pilsen put out an urgent call for people to donate blood.
Officials set up a phone hotline for the families of the dead and injured, and people who feared a loved one was on board one of the trains.
Crisis counselling was offered to survivors at the scene.
The trains involved were a Western Express Ex 351 service from Munich to Prague, and a regional Os 7413 passenger train travelling from Pilsen to Domazlice
Reports claim the international train had failed to stop at a multi-track section where the trains were due to pass each other.
Mr Havlicek, the deputy prime minister, tweeted: “Train crash. The Ex 351 train went through a signal in the ‘stop’ position in the Radonice turnout in Domazlice and collided with a passenger train.
“The situation is serious. I am on my way to the scene of the accident.”
The railway administration agency wrote on Twitter: “Two trains collided between Domazlice and Blizejov stations. We regret to say that there injuries.”
On Twitter, Prime Minister Andrej Babis offered “sincere condolences to the families of the dead”.
“Unfortunately, this summer is full of tragedies,” he wrote.
The village of Milavce is about 30 miles south-west of Pilsen and just 10 miles from the border with Germany’s Bavaria region.
The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, has suffered a number of rail tragedies in recent months.
In April, an engine driver was killed when two freight trains crashed into each other near the north-western village of Svetec.
An official said at the time that one of the drivers had not stopped before a signal.
In July 2020, five incidents occurred in a span of just nine days, leaving three dead and more than 50 injured.
Of those, two were killed and 24 injured when two trains collided near Karlovy Vary, and one person was killed and dozens hurt when a passenger train and freight train crashed into each other near Cesky Brod.