Prosecutor To Charge Man In Polish Train Collision

By Salon Staff

Published March 5, 2012 2:45PM (EST)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A prosecutor says he plans to charge a traffic controller who was on duty when two trains collided head-on in Poland Saturday, killing 16 people.

The announcement Monday is the first indication that human error is the suspected cause of the crash, which happened when the trains ended up on the same track by mistake.

Prosecutor Tomasz Ozimek said an investigation so far indicates that the controller made a mistake while setting the mechanisms routing the trains.

Ozimek said the controller, who has not been identified, is to be charged with unintentionally causing a railroad accident. He hasn't been charged yet because he is in a state of shock and under doctors' care.

Another traffic controller has also been detained for questioning but has not been charged.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Two rail traffic controllers have been detained for questioning over a head-on train collision in southern Poland that killed 16 people, a prosecutor said Monday.

The two were in charge of traffic on the route at the time the crash occurred Saturday night near the town of Szczekociny, just north of Krakow, Tomasz Ozimek said. The collision left the front cars of the trains a mangled heap, toppled others, and injured more than 50 people, three of whom remain in serious condition.

The two controllers have not been charged with any crimes and Ozimek refused to reveal further details on the detentions.

Prosecutors and railway traffic experts were still inspecting the site and the wreckage as they gathered evidence in their investigation of Poland's worst train accident in over 20 years.

Emergency workers continued to search the area to be certain that no bodies were left in the wreckage. Sniffer dogs have not detected anyone, but the continued search is a precaution.

The wreckage was removed from the tracks early Monday and technicians were working to restore traffic, possibly on Tuesday.

One of the victims was identified as a Russian citizen, Ozimek said. An American is also among the dead.

Also Monday, Poland began two days of national mourning for the victims. The Polish white-and-red flag was lowered to half-staff at public buildings and entertainment and sports events were canceled.

One train was traveling from the eastern city of Przemysl to Warsaw in the north, while the other — an Intercity train traveling 95 kph (60 mph) on the wrong track — was heading south from Warsaw to Krakow.

Salon Staff

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