One person has died and dozens have been injured, many seriously, after a passenger train derailed in the south of the Netherlands in the early hours of Tuesday.
Emergency services say the overnight crash happened after the train transporting about 50 people hit construction equipment north of The Hague.
It was reportedly caused by construction equipment left on the tracks. Pictures from the scene showed overturned carriages, and a plume of smoke rising in the night sky.
The front carriage of the night train from Leiden city to The Hague derailed and plowed into a field after the accident, ANP news agency said. The second carriage was on its side and a fire broke out in the rear carriage but was later extinguished, it said.
Bij #voorschoten staat de ontspoorde trein leeg op en vooral naast het spoor. De -mogelijke- oorzaak van de ontsporing zien we ook: een spoorwegkraan die grotendeels verwoest is. Zaten 50 passagiers id trein, “meerdere zwaargewonden”. #rtlnieuws pic.twitter.com/0RlWV98qbz
— Geert Gordijn (@geertgordijn) April 4, 2023
A fire department spokesman told Dutch radio that 19 people were taken to hospital, while others were being treated at the scene.
The crash happened at about 03:25 local time (01:25 GMT) on Tuesday. Several ambulances were seen standing ready to transport the injured.
Officials from the Dutch Safety Board, a body that conducts independent investigations into accidents, have been dispatched to the crash scene.
Accident in the Netherlands follows train disaster in Greece
The accident in the Netherlands comes five weeks after the train disaster in Greece at Tempi that caused the death of 57 people.
On Monday partial service resumed on the main train line linking Athens and Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city. The route was the scene of a head-on collision on February 28 between a freight train and a passenger train with more than 350 people on board, many of them young students.
The crash triggered weeks of angry protests and is set to weigh heavily on the general election in May, in which Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is seeking to retain his post.
In a bid to reassure passengers, Transport Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis traveled on the first train between Athens and the central town of Kalambaka on Monday, along with the head of the rail network company (OSE) and representatives of privatized train company Hellenic Trains.
“Our duty is to have a rail service that lives up to everyone’s expectations, a modern rail service that can develop and be among the best in Europe,” Gerapetritis told the media.
“It’s the government’s duty. But it’s also a debt we owe to the victims of this tragic accident whose lives were so unjustly cut short.”
While the disaster has been in part blamed on the stationmaster on duty near the site of the crash in Tempi, central Greece, it has also highlighted government delays in modernizing rail safety systems.