Victims in Denmark Great Belt Bridge rail accident identified

Victims in Denmark Great Belt Bridge rail accident identified
The crashed DSB train on the Great Belt Bridge on January 2nd. Photo: Tim K. Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix
Danish police said on Friday they had identified the eight victims killed in a train accident on the Great Belt Bridge earlier this week.

All of the victims were Danes ranging in age from 27 to 60.

The three men and five women were not related to each other and hail from different regions of the country, a police statement said, adding that all of the victims’ next of kin had been informed of their identities.

People who lost their lives in the accident include a 28-year-old woman from eastern Funen, a 51-year-old man from northern Funen, a 30-year-old man from Aarhus, a 45-year-old woman from Odense, a 60-year-old woman from Odense, a 27-year-old woman from central Funen, a 59-year-old woman from Greater Copenhagen and a 30-year-old man from Greenland, Funen Police said in a written statement.

The accident occurred in strong winds early on Wednesday, when a truck trailer appeared to blow off a cargo train carrying empty beer trailers, crates and bottles.

The trailer hit a DSB passenger train travelling in the opposite direction on the Great Belt Fixed Link between the islands of Zealand, where Copenhagen is located, and Funen.

Sixteen others were hurt, but none of them suffered life-threatening injuries.

Investigators have yet to determine how and why the truck trailer came loose from the cargo train.

The Danish Maritime Investigation Board (Havarikommissionen, DMIB) has primary responsibility for investigation of the accident, Funen Police wrote in the statement. Police will provide assistance in the investigation where necessary.

“After this (investigation) work is completed, Funen Police will assess whether conditions are present for legal proceedings. Funen Police can therefore not give any further detail as to the investigation of the rail accident until the results of the Maritime Board investigation are known and have been fully assessed,” the statement read.

Investigation of the accident may take a considerable amount of time, DMIB investigator Bo Haaning told broadcaster DR on Thursday.

“We are embarking on a large puzzle which could take days, weeks and months to complete. We must gather all the possible relevant information in order to prevent such a terrible accident from happening again,” Haaning said.

The investigation will focus on safety-related issues with a view to making recommendations on improved safety, the investigator said.

“This is everything from what the existing rules are and whether they were complied with to the accounts given by staff, the role played by the wind and technical investigations. All the information and knowledge relevant to what happened. The primary goal is to find the reasons for this happening,” Haaning, who is the DMIB deputy director, told DR.

DB Cargo, the operator of the freight train, said that it had suspended services of the type of train involved in the accident.

“We will not operate the so-called beer trains for the time being. We are in the process of investigating what happened. When we feel sure that we can resume safe operations, we will do so,” DB Cargo head of communications Jan Wildau said.

National rail operator DSB tweeted its condolences and held a minutes’ silence for staff on Thursday.

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