At least 25 killed in magnetic train crash in Germany

Germany's prestigious Transrapid high-speed magnetic train ran into a maintenance wagon on a test track in the north-west of the country yesterday, killing up to 25 people and injuring 10 others in the worst accident in the vehicle's 35-year history.

Police said the Transrapid, which floats on a monorail using a magnetic levitation system, was travelling at 120mph when it crashed, catapulting many of the 29 passengers on board through the front panorama windows of the driverless train and causing two fires to break out immediately.

A police spokesman, Martin Ratermann, in Emsland, the district where the 30km (19-mile) test track is located, said late yesterday that the death toll rose to 25 after more searches in and around the train, which crashed about a kilometre from the station at the village of Melstrup.

Hermann Broering, a district councillor, said that 10 other passengers had been taken to hospital where they were being treated for their injuries, some of which were serious.

Television pictures of the scene showed fire crews struggling to enter smashed carriages that were balanced on a section of track raised some five metres off the ground.

Sections of the train's wreckage littered the area and ambulances were busy ferrying the injured to local hospitals in the surrounding area.

One eyewitness told Germany's N24 television channel that the train rammed the maintenance wagon, pushing it some 700 metres down the track before coming to a halt."As soon as the train stopped, fires broke out. The front of the train was completely destroyed," he said.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, left a conference in Berlin and arrived near the scene by helicopter. Wearing black, she said her thoughts were with the victims. "I want to show that I am with them," she said.

She declined to talk about what effect the accident would have on Germany's maglev technology industry and whether it would affect plans for future lines. "Today we are in mourning," she said.

In May, Ms Merkel travelled to China to tout economic ties with the country, and went for a ride on the maglev train that links Shanghai's Pudong International Airport with the city's financial district.

Rudolf Schwarz, of the IABG company which runs the test track, said that human error appeared to have caused the crash.

"We are absolutely devastated by what has happened and we will be doing everything possible to find out exactly what caused the crash," said Mr Schwarz.

Some reports said the dead included relatives of the Transrapid test-track's employees who had been invited to go on a company-sponsored ride.

More than 250,000 passengers have used the train since it was set up as a tourist attraction and testing site in 1989.

The news of the crash prompted Wolfgang Tiefensee, the federal Transport Minister, to break off a visit to China.His ministry said he was " deeply concerned" and was making straight for the scene to console relatives of the dead and injured.

This was Germany's worst rail disaster since 1998, when 101 people died after an InterCityExpress derailed and smashed into a bridge near the northern town of Eschede in what remains the country's deadliest train crash.

The incident is expected to deal a serious blow to Germany's hopes of fully developing the Transrapid as a viable form of rail transport at home and as an export. The train, which is capable of record-breaking speeds above 280mph, only operates commercially in China where it provides the link between Shanghai airport and the city centre. Last month a fire broke out on one of the Shanghai trains, raising concerns for its safety.

Yesterday's crash will also have ramifications closer to home as the idea of introducing the high-speed "maglev" train to Britain has been championed vociferously by the Conservative Party. Last month, the shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, while on a visit to Japan, warned that the UK was lagging behind other countries' high-technology transport links. He said: "Part of competing means having a transport system that was not built in the 19th century but is suitable to the age in which we're living."

Cliff Perry, of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, said: "The overall impression caused by maglev accidents at this stage is that of a technology which is still in its infancy, with some indications that its robustness is not yet fully proven."

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Thame i...

Graduate Project Manager

£25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

PPA Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Teaching Assistant Cornwall

£45 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Plymouth: TEACHING ASSISTANTS REQUIRED F...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past