13 killed in gas train inferno

Author: Associated Press

The rear of the train careered into a residential neighbourhood just outside
the railway station in the Tuscan seaside town of Viareggio, and the
resulting explosion caused at least two buildings to collapse and set fire
to a vast area.

Seven people, including a child, were killed at home by the collapses or the
fire, said Raffaele Gargiulo, a police spokesman in the nearby city of
Lucca, which is in charge of the smaller town of Viareggio.

Two drivers who were on the road alongside the tracks when the train derailed
were killed. The 10th victim, a young man, died in the hospital, Mr Gargiulo
said.

“The condition of the bodies is such that it will be very difficult to
identify them,” he said.

Lucca’s top government official, Prefect Carmelo Aronica, told Italy’s Rai
state TV that at least 50 people were injured, 35 of whom were in hospital
with severe burns. The Ansa news agency reported that three children were
pulled alive from the rubble of their collapsed home shortly before daybreak
today.

Videos uploaded on YouTube showed a huge plume of fire and smoke towering
above Viareggio’s low houses. Images from the scene showed an inferno raging
in the night, consuming buildings and wagons, while the sound of sirens and
explosions pierced the air.

“It’s an impressive scene, there are dozens and dozens of cars hit by the
shock wave and collapsed houses,” said fire service spokesman Luca Cari.

The 14-carriage train carrying the liquefied gas was travelling from the
northern city of La Spezia to Pisa. The train derailed just before midnight
yesterday shortly after passing through Viareggio’s train station, Mr
Gargiulo said.

The train’s two engineers were only lightly injured and were questioned in the
hospital, saying they felt an impact some 650 feet outside the station,
shortly before the rear of the train flew off the tracks, Mr Gargiulo said.

He said the incident may have been caused by damage to the tracks or a problem
with the train’s braking system.

Fire chief Antonio Gambardella told Rai that the blaze was being contained but
there was still the risk that the other gas tanks would explode.

Hazardous materials teams specialised in dealing with nuclear, biological and
chemical threats were being brought in to help.

Some 300 firefighters were battling flames while digging through the rubble of
collapsed or burnt homes looking for casualties, Mr Gambardella said, adding
that there could be more victims.

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