Runaway cargo train crashes into building at Oslo port; at least 3 dead, 3 injured

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Runaway cargo train crashes in Norway, 3 dead

OSLO — Sixteen empty railway cars broke loose from a cargo train and crashed into an Oslo port terminal at high speed Wednesday, killing at least three people and injuring three others, officials and witnesses said.

The runaway train cars accelerated as they rolled downhill for about 3 miles (5 kilometers) before slamming into the terminal on the edge of the Oslo fjord, where some of them fell into the water, police and railroad officials said.

The victims had been working in or around the building, which collapsed from the impact, police spokeswoman Martine Laeng said. She said the train cars were empty.

Police and rescue workers were searching through the rubble of the shattered building and in the water for an additional missing worker. National broadcaster NRK aired images showing at least two train cars in the water and a collapsed one-story concrete building.

Vegar Halveg, who works for a transport company at the port in the Sjursoeya district of Oslo, said he heard a loud screech and looked out the window to see several empty cargo train cars speed past.

“They were going much faster than they usually do, so we realized something was wrong,” Halveg told The Associated Press, estimating their speed at more than 100 kilometers an hour (62 miles per hour). “The last car was practically airborne.”

Halveg said several cars derailed and one hit a dump truck. The driver was injured but conscious when rescue workers put him into an ambulance, he said.

Port worker Morten Schroeder told NRK the runaway train cars appeared “without any kind of warning whatsoever,” despite the long distance they traveled before reaching the port.

Police spokeswoman Kari Huseby confirmed that the train cars were traveling “very fast” when they hit the port, but didn’t know their exact speed.

The runaway carriages struck several trucks and cars in the port area before crashing into the building that was used to register transport vehicles and cargo, she said. “There are no hazardous or flammable materials in the area,” she said.

The Norwegian National Rail Administration said a group of train cars had come loose at the Alnabru cargo terminal, though it was not immediately clear how.

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