TWO commuter trains crashed head-on in a remote area in southern Germany, killing at least ten people and injuring 150.
The head-on crash happened near Bad Aibling, a spa town about 60km (37 miles) south-east of Munich before 7am on Tuesday.
Fifty of those hurt are understood to have serious injuries.
Emergency teams, some winched in by helicopter, worked for hours to free casualties from the wreckage.
Regional police said in a tweet (in German) that ten people had been killed and 100 injured, 50 of them seriously.
The rail line is used by commuters heading to work in Munich, and would normally also carry children traveling to school, but they are currently on holiday.
It was not clear how fast the trains were traveling at the time of the crash but German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said they were permitted to travel of speeds up to 120 kilometers per hour (80mph) on that stretch of track.
The trains crashed in a remote area south-east of Munich in an area with a forest on one side and a river on the other. Rescue crews using helicopters and small boats shuttled injured passengers to the other side of the Mangfall river to waiting ambulances. Authorities said they were being taken to hospitals across southern Bavaria.
Hundreds of emergency personnel from Germany and neighbouring Austria were on the scene looking through the wreckage and aiding in the evacuation of the injured.
“This is the biggest accident we have had in years in this region and we have many emergency doctors, ambulances and helicopters on the scene,” police spokesman Stefan Sonntag said.
We need to find out now what happened, if the cause of the crash was based on the technology or human failureAlexander Dobrindt
The two trains from the so-called Meridian line were both partially derailed and wedged against one another, train operater Bayerische Oberlandbahn said in a statement on its website.
It was not yet clear what caused the crash, police said.
Federal transport minister Alexander Dobrindt, speaking from the crash scene, said his thoughts were with the family members of the dead and the injured.
“We need to find out know what happened, if the cause of the crash was based on the technology or human failure,” he said.
Bayerische Oberlandbahn said it had started a hotline for family and friends to check on passengers.
“This is a huge shock. We are doing everything to help the passengers, relatives and employees,” Bernd Rosenbusch, the head of the Bayerische Oberlandbahnsaid.In Munich, the city blood centre put out an urgent call for donors in the wake of the crash.
The Munich Blood Donation Service said on its website that there was “an acute increased need for life-saving blood products” after the accident and called for immediate donations.
Germany is known for the quality of its train service but the country has seen several other accidents, typically at road crossings.
Most recently, a train driver and one passenger were killed when a train hit the trailer of a tractor in western Germany in May, injuring another 20.
In 2011, ten people were killed and 23 injured in a head-on collision of a passenger train and a cargo train on a single-line track close to Saxony-Anhalt’s state capital Magdeburg in eastern Germany.
Germany’s worst train accident happened in 1998, when a high-speed ICE train crashed in the northern German town of Eschede, killing 101 people and injuring more than 80.