Passenger train derails in Hedmark

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A passenger train heading from the historic mining town of Røros to Hamar derailed Monday morning, not far from the scene of a fatal train accident on the same line in Hedmark County 11 years ago. This time, though, passengers escaped death, and injuries were believed to be relatively minor.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that emergency crews had to chop down trees to get to the scene of the accident, which occurred just before 7am between Koppang and Rena in the valley of Østerdalen.

Fractures, neck and back injuries
There were 31 people on board the three-car train, including passengers and crew. Rescue workers said seven were injured and suffering from fractures, neck and back pain. An air ambulance was sent to the scene near Opphus and the injured were being taken to hospital in Elverum. Operations leader Wenche Gusjås told NRK that none of the injuries were life-threatening.

The location of the accident meant it took time for police to reach the site, but “all available resources” were being put into the rescue efforts, according to a press release from the police.

Railway NSB was also awaiting more details of the derailment and said it was too early to establish its cause. Gusjås, however, told NRK that heavy rain in the area had washed away the ground under the rails. “The train is lying on its side,” she told NRK.

Dag Svinsås of state railroad Jernbaneverket, which is responsible for railroad infrastructure while NSB is responsible for operations, said crews had been inspecting various stretches of tracks because of the heavy rain. “At the exact site of this derailing, we have not had visitations,” he told news website Adressa.no.

‘Confusing and chaotic’
One passenger, Jannika Grimbe, said on NRK’s national radio news broadcast that she was dozing in her seat when she was abruptly awakened by a lurch and felt the train leave the track. “Then everything was very confusing and chaotic on board the train for awhile,” she said. “Folks were yelling and several were in pain.”

She said the train was leaning to the left and several seats were jarred off their mountings. “People walked back and forth but also called home to say they were okay,” she said. “I tried to help as many as I could.”

The accident forced closure of the train line, known as Rørosbanen, which also has been disrupted earlier this summer by heavy rain and flooding. A collision on the same line farther south at Åsta in January 2000 killed 19 persons and injured many others.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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