Bad weather puts tunnel tragedy recovery bid on hold

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The Independent Online

Recovery crews have gathered near the Austrian mountain tunnel where 155 people died in a cable car fire late last year, but heavy snow and fog kept helicopters that were to transport heavy equipment for the operation on the ground.

Recovery crews have gathered near the Austrian mountain tunnel where 155 people died in a cable car fire late last year, but heavy snow and fog kept helicopters that were to transport heavy equipment for the operation on the ground.

Austrian Federal Railways spokesman Johannes Gfrerer said the poor weather meant that bulldozers and other heavy equipment could not be positioned at the Kitzsteinhorn tunnel, situated near the village of Kaprun, south of Salzburg. Work was underway to clear a landing area for the helicopters, he told the Austria Press Agency.

Experts estimate that it will take three weeks to remove the melted-down cable car and rails from the tunnel. Extreme technical difficulties are being faced on account of the weight involved, some 16 tons, and cramped conditions in the tunnel

An unconfirmed report published yesterday in Profil, an Austrian weekly, suggested that the heating system was to blame, but no official cause has been made public.

The fire November 11 killed 155 people from Austria, Germany, the United States, Japan, Slovenia, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. It was the worst accident of its kind on record.

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