Train carrying 200 passengers derails after landslide on Swiss mountain causing carriages to hang over steep ravine

  • Passengers forced to rush to one end of the carriage to rebalance it
  • Two hundred passengers were travelling aboard the train at the time
  • Several people have been injured police said, without specifying the number 
  • Rescuers said to be finding it difficult to reach the accident scene
  • Heavy rain is forecast, making the rescue operation a race against time 

By Peter Allen and Allan Hall and Damien Gayle For Mailonline

 

 

At least two train carriages were left hanging into a ravine in Switzerland today following a horrific Alpine rail accident.

A landslide triggered by heavy rain caused the narrow-gauge train to derail, leaving passengers trapped in carriages as they teetered over the abyss.

Several travellers on the Rhaetische Bahn train from Chur to St. Moritz were injured and helicoptered to local hospitals as rescue workers struggled to reach those trapped in the car dangling in mid air.

Railway horror: The aftermath of the rail accident, which after the train made an emergency stop to avoid a landslide close to the mountain village ot Tiefencastel, according to a spokesman for the local police
The scene: Parts of the train were left hanging over the steep ravine after the landslide. 

Desperate passengers aboard the carriage swaying in the sky were forced to crawl up the carriageway in a bid to shift the weight in the wagon and prevent it from plunging over the edge.

Steven Bueller, one passenger aboard, told Swiss radio: 'We all went to the back to shift the weight, to try to stop it from pitching into the ravine. It was a nightmare scene with many terrified people aboard.'

 

The first wagon behind the locomotive plunged into the gorge and came to rest against rocks and trees some 100 feet from the railway track.

Police divers were deployed in a reservoir below because it was feared the hanging car could tumble into the water.

Difficult terrain: Rescuers were said to be finding it difficult to reach the accident scene

Some 200 people were on board the train at the time of the accident, which followed heavy rain in the region.

Several people were injured, police said in a statement, without giving a precise figure.

An air rescue service was helping the recovery effort at the site, which wasn't close to a road.

‘There was a derailment just before 1pm,’ said a local police spokesman, who said it happened close to the mountain village of Tiefencastel.

‘The train made an emergency stop because of a landslide, sending at least two of the carriages over the edge.’

Contradicting this explanation, photographs appeared to show that the train had in fact been hit by the landslide and pushed off the tracks.

A picture posted on Twitter showing the crash

Photographs from the scene showed an entire carriage hanging in trees on the mountainside.

Rescuers were said to be finding it difficult to reach the accident scene. Heavy rain is forecast to fall in the area, which could complicate rescue efforts.

The crash on the Swiss railway network - judged the world's safest - came three days after three people were killed when a mini bus was rammed on a level crossing at Nidwald in central Switzerland.

Wednesday's crash happend at 12.45 between Tiefencastel and Solis. It was the second compartment behind the engine that was left hanging.

'The track simply slid away immediately behind the locomotive. The organisation Rega has been deployed to fly out casualties,' said an eyewtiness.

Rega is the company which in June airlifted race ace Michael Schumacher from a hospital in France to a rehab clinic in Lausanne, Switzerland, after he awoke from his artificial coma.

Last week a top German-born manager of the firm hanged himself in a police cell after he was arrested on suspicion of being the thief of Schumacher's medical files which he wanted to sell for 50,000 pounds to the media.

Rescue services tend to a victim of the passenger train accident

 

The train was en route from St. Moritz to Chur when it was bowled over by the landslide.

Police spokesman Daniel Zinsli said there were at least 200 people on the train but there were no reports of fatalities. Four Rega choppers were deployed taking injured passengers to hospital.

A team of paramedics was swiftly airlifted to the area to deal with many shocked travellers, at least 100 of whom walked back down the railway line to safety.

Airspace above the wreck has been closed to all but emergency services craft.

The train is operated by Rhaetische Bahn, which runs a network of narrow-gauge routes in Switzerland's mountainous southeastern corner.

The privately run train operator serves a number of major tourist centres, including St Moritz and Davos, and also crosses the Bernina Pass to the Italian border and on to Tirano.

Their distinctive red trains are hugely popular with holidaymakers, especially during the summer months.