Train wreck in Riga kills two, injures several others

  • 2005-01-26
  • By The Baltic Times
RIGA 's A train crash near Riga's central train station on Wednesday morning led to the deaths of at least two and seriously injured several others.

A suburban passenger train en route from Ogre to Riga collided with the Riga-Moscow passenger train whose passengers had just walked off. The Ogre train had four wagons, and its locomotive was smashed in two.

The suburban train collided with the Moscow train, which had been moving backwards.

The accident occurred shortly before 11 a.m., police said, and rescue service workers were still evacuating people by mid-day.

State Fire and Rescue Service chief Aivars Straume told the Baltic News Service that rescue work was delayed since the train was connected to power lines and rescue workers risked being electrocuted.

The ambulance service said that four people with various degrees of injuries were taken to a hospital in Riga.

"The train was going at low speed therefore the number of casualties is relatively low," said Martins Sics, director of Emergency Medicine Center.

Interior Minister Eriks Jekabsons and Transport Minister Ainars Slesers arrived at the accident scene.

Train traffic was suspended around the accident scene.

Speaking to the press on the scene, Slesers said the accident was most likely caused by negligence of the engineer driving the train from Ogre to Riga, since he had failed to notice the red light signal.

Andris Zorgevics, head of Latvijas Dzelzcels (Latvian Railway), the state-owned railway company, said the accident occurred in a place where one of the most advanced railway junctions in Europe had been built. Modernization of the junction had just been completed recently. He said that the accident was a "very gross" mistake by the train engineer because there are no switches right at the accident scene.

Zorgevics said he highly appreciated actions of the other train's engineer who, upon seeing that collision was imminent, was trying to slow down speed of his train.