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Montevideo, July 13th 2024 - 23:08 UTC



Two die as Chilean trains clash head-on

Thursday, June 20th 2024 - 22:04 UTC
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The accident was recorded at 0.15 am Thursday The accident was recorded at 0.15 am Thursday

Two people died and at least nine others were injured Thursday after a head-on collision between two trains in Santiago, Chile. The units involved were a freight convoy of the company Fepasa and a passengerless test formation belonging to the Empresa de Ferrocarriles del Estado (EFE). “We regret to report the death of two workers on the freight train,” the state-owned company said in a statement.

Four Chinese nationals were among the injured on the EFE train doing speed tests when they crashed into each other on the main track, between Puente Maipo and Nos, in the San Bernardo district, on the outskirts of Santiago. The other five victims were of Chilean nationality, it was reported. Of the nine injured, three were discharged while six of them remained hospitalized, one of them in a serious condition.

The test train “was not warned that this freight train was coming north,” Prosecutor Pedro Aravena told local media. The eight-car freight train was carrying 1,346 tons of copper while the other train was carrying 10 workers, according to the railway company, who were participating in tests to improve speed between routes.

“We have to identify what the causes are and take the corresponding measures,” Transport and Telecommunications Minister Juan Carlos Muñoz said after the driver of the test train and the person in charge of track control, both working for EFE, were arrested for alleged manslaughter. One of the detainees was among the injured. In the meantime, evidence was being collected at the site of the accident Carabineros Captain Victoria Ramírez said. After those arrested were remanded, the Prosecution announced that their arraignment had been scheduled for June 22.

“It was a very complex situation”, where one of the trains in test mode of the San Fernando service that is being planned to be inaugurated soon “collided with a freight train that was also coming from south to north and the accident occurred,” explained EFE's Manager Justin Siegel. “Railway accidents are multi-causal,” he added while noting that these tests were performed at night for safety reasons and that the company operated some 500 daily services. The collision was recorded at 0.15 am Thursday.

“The information has already been handed over” to the investigating teams, he also pointed out. The accident “also affects the EFE family,” Siegel stressed.

“It is unprecedented in Chile's railway operation; it has been more than 20 years or more since a collision of this magnitude and it certainly challenges us to be able to pursue this growth project,” he went on.

Train services from Santiago's Central Station were halted during Thursday's National Holiday.

Barrister Ximena Silva representing one of the accused insisted that “we believe that there are no reasons for them to be detained, we believe that there are no indications of any responsibility of these people, at least, up to this moment, in these facts” and claimed that communication devices did not work correctly.

“My client tells me that, apparently, the devices that should be working for these purposes, which are the radio transmitters, were not working and, therefore, they had to communicate by telephone and I understand that it would not have worked in the best way, but this does not entail responsibility for my client, who was not at fault in these unfortunate events,” she argued.

Categories: Politics, Chile.

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