Jan 30th, 2012

Tragic News from Czech Republic

We have been contacted by Polish News TV about a tragic train crash earlier today on the line from Krakow, Poland to Prague involving a number of fatalities and many casualties. This apparently occurred near Ostrava in the Czech Pepublic.

We are shocked and horrified at this news and wish to pass on our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who died and our best hopes and prayers for the rapid recovery of the many injured. Apparently there were many Polish and Czech Maiden fans on board on the way to tonight's concert at the Slavia Football Stadium in Prague, which is why we were contacted and informed of this by the Polish media. I will be discussing with the band how best to pay our respects at the concert tonight, a concert we are dedicating to all of those involved in this horrific incident. The latest news from the BBC is copied below. We hope that you fans will join us in praying for all those involved.

At least six people are reported to have died and many others have been injured after a train ran into a collapsed bridge in the Czech Republic.

A railway spokesperson said the accident, near the eastern town of Studenka, was "a serious disaster".

Firefighters are at the scene, helping remove the victims from the train, witnesses said.

The high-speed express train was travelling from the Polish city of Krakow to the Czech capital, Prague.

"An international train from Krakow to Prague ran into a collapsed bridge which fell on the rails in the area of the town Studenka," Radek Joklik, a spokesperson for Czech Railways, told local media.

Initially, officials had suggested that ten people had been killed and 100 people injured during the crash.

Czech railways officials said the train hit part of a motorway bridge undergoing construction work which collapsed on to the track while the train was approaching or passing underneath, derailing three passenger carriages and the locomotive.

Reports suggested the train was travelling at speeds of 140km/h (87 mph) when it hit the bridge at 1030 local time (0830GMT).

Many injured

Television images showed rescuers climbing into the green and white carriages to try to pull survivors out.

AFP reports that 16 fire brigade units with a total of 30 vehicles are at the crash site as well as ambulances and helicopters taking the injured to hospital.

An officer from the Czech fire service told Reuters that many people were injured in the crash.

"There are some dead, but we do not have precise numbers, because our people are rather devoting time to rescue those still alive," David Pridal said.

A spokeswoman for the local hospital said extra staff had been called in to deal with the injured train crash survivors.

"All staff have been called to service and we have freed a number of beds to make room for the injured," Anna Vidisevska told Reuters.

Czech Television said approximately 400 people were on board the train at the time of the accident, including many young people travelling to a music festival in Pardubice.

A reader told the BBC news website that the accident might have claimed even more lives had it not happened during the holiday period.

"I travel by this train once a week when I'm travelling to school and it's always so overcrowded that there isn't even a place for standing," said Vladimir, by email.

The Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk were reported to be on their way to the scene of the crash.