UPDATED: Several railroad cars suddenly started rolling on their own out of the Alnabru terminal on Oslo’s east side Wednesday afternoon, careened out of control towards the waterfront, crashed into at least one building and then into the fjord at Sjursøya. Three persons were confirmed killed and four seriously injured.
The accident occurred around 1:30pm and the runaway rail cars left a dramatic scene after their wild eight-kilometer-long trip, with smashed buildings and boxcars strewn around their final destination and in the water (photo).
Officials at state railroad Jernbaneverket issued a press release stating that the train carriages “rolled on their own down to the Sjursøya harbor terminal.” Accident investigators, who had no immediate clues as to what set the boxcars off, estimated their speeds hit more than 100 kilometers per hour (60mph), propelled by their weight and a roughly 100-meter drop in elevation from Alnabru down to the waterfront.
Bjarne Wist of CargoNet, which operated the train involved, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that “we know that it’s one of our trains with 14 to 15 cars that has rolled from the terminal up at Alnabru and down (to Sjursøya).”
Wist said no one knew how or why the rail cars came loose. “We’re trying to get an overview of the situation,” he told NRK.
“I saw a set of rail cars come running down from Alnabru, and five or 10 of them crashed right into a warehouse,” one witness told Aftenposten.no. Another witness said he had just crossed the train tracks when six rail cars came racing down “at an incredible speed” and “crashed right into the building in front of us.”
One crashed through a gate at the Ormsund terminal and then tipped over.
The nearby E-18 highway heading south from Oslo was immediately closed, and all train traffic from the Oslo Central Station to Ljan was suspended for several hours. That caused major congestion on the brink of the afternoon commuter rush. Rail traffic later resumed on southbound tracks and the highway reopened.
Police, fire fighters, ambulances and helicopters responded to what was called a “full catastrophe” alarm, as they tried to assess the extent of injuries and damage. Three persons were confirmed dead by mid-afternoon, and four persons were seriously injured.