Alpine holiday tunnel warning

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The Independent Online
A TUNNEL which is the main alternative for motorists to the closed Austrian Tauern tunnel, in which nine people died at the weekend, has been ranked the most dangerous of 20 tested in Europe.

The Felbertauern tunnel is the obvious route for holiday traffic heading south through Austria now Tauern is closed. But the German equivalent of the Automobile Association, the ADAC, said it was the most dangerous of those it tested.

It ranked 20 tunnels on safety after the Mont Blanc tunnel fire between France and Italy, which killed 42 people three months ago. Robert Sauter, project manager at the ADAC, said the Felbertauern tunnel lacked vital pedestrian escape routes and its ventilation was outdated. "Until now it [Felbertauern] was not so important, but now we have the holiday season and there will be higher traffic flows there," said Mr Sauter. He said those responsible had to take action immediately on the Felbertauern and all other single-bore tunnels in Europe.

The death toll from Saturday's fire in the Tauern tunnel rose to nine when another four bodies were brought out. It is thought that at least two more bodies could be inside.