Injured improving after Swiss Alps rail crash

Injured improving after Swiss Alps rail crash

Swiss medical authorities have said that the condition of two Japanese holidaymakers who were critically injured when a tourist train derailed in the Alps was improving.

A 64-year-old Japanese woman was killed and about 42 people injured when several carriages of the Glacier Express travelling between the ski resorts of Zermatt and St Moritz overturned last Friday.

Thirteen people, including 12 Japanese plus a Spanish national, were still hospitalised in the Valais canton of Switzerland on Monday, the hospital said in a statement. Of those, seven Japanese were listed as in a serious condition.

Rail accidents are rare in Switzerland. The Glacier Express – dubbed the “slowest express train in the world” – is known as much for its majestic mountain climbs as for its pedestrian 18 mph average speed.

Valais authorities said two of the train cars drove off the tracks and a third tipped over, but the cause of the accident wasn’t immediately known.

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The 80-year-old Glacier Express runs several times a day all year round, carrying some 250,000 passengers a year.

It starts in Zermatt, at the base of the Matterhorn mountain, and ends in St. Moritz. Train cars have special large windows that sweep high onto the roof so tourists can take in the vast mountain vistas.

The accident was the country’s worst rail mishap since 2006, when three men died after a runaway train travelled for miles without brakes before crashing into another train.
Hospitals network director Dietmar Michlig told the AFP that the two most seriously injured were still in intensive care, but “their clinical situation is improving”.

Most of those still receiving treatment are suffering from multiple fractures, including spinal, hip and head injuries.

Michlig said at least four patients were expected to be discharged by the end of the week.

The Swiss government has sent its condolences to Japan.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey wrote a letter to her Japanese counterpart, Katsuya Okada, expressing her shock and sorrow over the accident.