By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
VOORSCHOTEN, NETHERLANDS (Worthy News) – A double-decker train carrying about 50 passengers derailed in the southern Netherlands early Tuesday, killing one person and injuring 30 others, in what officials called “a black day for the Dutch railway.”
The train, traveling from Leiden to The Hague, veered off track in the village of Voorschoten at 3:25 a.m. local time, confirmed operator Dutch Railways (NS).
Nineteen wounded people were rushed to regional hospitals while dozens of others were treated at the scene for their injuries, witnesses and officials said.
Voorschoten is less than 16 kilometers (10 miles ) from The Hague. The front carriage plowed into a field, footage showed.
The middle section was seen on its side next to the track. A fire raged in the rear part of the train after the accident, but a photographer said it was extinguished on the spot.
Survivors cried for help, and residents noticed. “We heard a loud bang. Then it was quiet for a while,” said Aron Ooms, who lives opposite the railway.
He recalled sitting upright in his bed soon after hearing the noise while his wife and three children also woke up in shock.
“I was aware that something had happened on the track. Then from my window, I saw all kinds of telephone lights waving in the meadow,” Ooms told reporters. “It was pitch black, and there was no lighting. Then we realized people were walking through the meadow looking for help.”
Video footage showed passengers scrambling in the dark as they tried to leave the train.
Ooms said that he and others residents began helping victims. “We put them here and have their water.”
Rescuers later asked people to stay away from the crash site as they treated the wounded and attempted to take those with severe injuries to hospitals.
Officials did not immediately give a reason for the crash but said an investigation was underway, including the possibility that two trains hit a construction crane. “There has been an accident,” said Annemarie Moeijes, a fire department spokesperson. There are some working materials on the track. There is also a freight train with some damage, but the major damage is on the passenger train,” she added.
The NS said there would be no trains running between Leiden Central and The Hague Central for the rest of the day.
“This is an incredibly tragic accident,” said the mayor of Voorschoten, Nadine Stemerdink. “My thoughts go out to all the family and friends of those involved.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who faced a potential government crisis Tuesday after recent elections, said: “My thoughts are with the relatives and with all the victims.”
Dutch King Willem-Alexander, who visited the scene, and Queen Maxima also expressed their sorrow. “Our thoughts are with the victims of the train accident at Voorschoten and their families. Many are now in fear and uncertainty. We deeply sympathize with all of them.”
Train accidents are relatively rare in the Netherlands, a small nation with one of Europe’s busiest railways.
Yet infrastructure troubles and railway management issues have led to concerns about the state of Dutch trains and its extensive railway network.
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