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Three killed as run-away train plunges into fjord

OSLO (AFP) - A Norwegian freight train hurtling out of control left at least three people dead and three badly hurt Wednesday after it smashed through a building at the end of the tracks and plunged into a fjord, police said.

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The train "was going extremely fast" and "the wagons at the back were not even touching the tracks, they were flying" in the air, witness Morten Schroeder told the TV2 news channel at the Oslo crash site.

According to police, three people were killed and four injured, three of them seriously.

Several hours after the crash at around 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) rescue workers were still searching for an eighth person who was reported missing.

"We are still searching because one person is still missing," Thor Langli of the Oslo police said in a broadcast press conference amid the wreckage at the scene.

The train of 16 empty wagons with no locomotive had sped wildly down hill for seven or eight kilometres (4.3-4.9 miles) at an estimated speed of 100 kilometres (62 miles) per hour before ramming through a large trackside building in an industrial part of the Norwegian capital, police said.

The structure, a large open-sided checking station where several people were working, collapsed and part of the train plummetted into the fjord.

Around a dozen ambulances, several helicopters and divers were sent to the scene.

Bjarne Wist, a spokesperson for the train operator Cargonet, said the train had been parked without a locomotive in the commercial area of Alnabru on the east side of Oslo, several kilometres (miles) from the crash site, and that it remained unclear how it had started rolling.

Police also said in a statement that "it is too early to say anything about what caused the accident".

Norwegian television showed images of rescue personnel in fluorescent vests scrambling amid the wreckage with stretchers, as helicopters circled above.

A number of police boats were also combing the edge of the Oslo fjord in search of the missing person, who may have been flung into the water by the impact.

Police dogs and a helicopter equipped with a thermal camera were also taking part in the search.

Television images showed the checking station, where cargo is registered, with its roof caved in.

"I was at work and was in the process of unloading my truck when I heard a terrible noise and then saw a train without a locomotive hurtling along at break-neck speed, followed by a huge blast," witness Schroeder told the TV2 news channel.

"The first crash happened about one kilometre (mile) away. Some wagons are left lying there, while the rest of the 16 wagons continued through the terminal area to where the tracks end, then kept on going without tracks straight through the checking station and into the fjord behind us here," the truck driver said.

Vegard Halveg, who had been working at the scene, also described how he saw "the train speeding towards us much too fast".

"Several wagons derailed. One of them derailed very violently, turning over and ramming into a truck parked on the platform," he told the VG tabloid.

Police said they had opened an investigation into the accident.

Last Updated (Thursday, 25 March 2010 09:20)

 

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