A two-car, high-speed train carrying about 90 passengers derailed near the village of Rudine in southern Croatia today, Friday, July 24, killing six people and injuring at least 55, officials said.
The train was traveling from Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, to the city of Split and derailed in a remote, hilly area at about noon (1108 GMT; 7:08 a.m. EDT), 20 miles (30 kilometers) from its destination, emergency official Darko Marinkovic said.
The impact nearly broke one of the two cars in half, leaving a gruesome tangle of metal, seats, blood, and passengers’ possessions.
Six people were killed and at least 55 injured, Marinkovic said. Medical teams and helicopters raced to the scene to carry the injured to local hospitals. Undertakers removed the dead.
Among the injured were 12 foreigners: four citizens of France, two from Australia, and one each from Slovenia, Sweden, Britain, Pakistan, Serbia, and Spain, said Marijan Tonec, another duty emergency official, said. Five of them suffered minor injuries and were released from hospital, while others were kept for treatment, he said.
The cause of the derailment was being investigated.
The train is used by many Croatians and young foreign tourists traveling to the coast on summer vacations, and it was not immediately known if any of the passengers were foreigners.
One injured passenger, Zarko Rogan, a 71-year-old retiree from Zagreb, said the train seemed to be traveling too fast before the accident. “I told my wife: we have a problem, this train’s brakes don’t work,” he said.
Split Hospital, where injured passengers were taken, appealed to citizens to donate blood.
Zoran Popovac, the head of Croatian Railways, refused during an interview on Croatian state-run TV to speculate about what might have caused the accident, and whether the country’s heat wave could have been a factor.
“I won’t speculate about that at the moment,” he said.
Croatia is suffering a heat wave with temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday, and local media speculated this could have been a factor in the accident.
Croatian Railways said the injured included the train’s driver and two conductors and that the investigation would include an alcohol test on the driver.
Rail traffic was suspended on the route.
Reporters at the scene said the crash occurred several meters (yards) from a 20-meter-deep (66-foot-deep) chasm in the landscape.
Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor said he would visit the wounded in Split Hospital.
AP reporter Snjezana Vukic contributed to this report from Zagreb, Croatia.