Seven dead as train, minibus collide
LAST UPDATED: 08/05/2010 23:57
Officials: Minibus ignored warnings and ran through barrier.
Train crash in Kiryat Gat Photo: Channel 10
survived, was a neighbor of the Bernstein family.
All the casualties were on the minibus, which, according to
initial police findings, smashed through the railroad barrier and onto the
tracks just before the train’s arrival. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz
said he was certain the minibus driver was to blame.
The crash occurred at 7
p.m. slightly north of the Kiryat Gat train station. All the minibus
were injured to varying degrees and were evacuated by helicopters and
to regional hospitals. People on the southbound passenger train suffered
minor bruises as a result of the emergency braking and the
Giora Weiss, the train driver, told Channel 2 that he had
spotted the minibus moving quickly toward the track from 200 meters away
immediately pressed the emergency brake, but that neither vehicle could
“The minibus was traveling too fast to stop at the barrier. Instead
of coming to a halt at the barrier, he stopped on the tracks,” Israel
director-general Yitzhak Harel said from the scene.
driver was talking to his passengers,” he continued.
“He didn’t realize
at all that he was approaching the checkpoint. When he saw he was in
instead of moving forward, he stopped on the tracks.”
The train dragged
the minibus hundreds of meters down the track, eyewitnesses said.
recounted that “when [the ZAKA volunteers] realized the identity of the
deceased, they understood that we were dealing in a double tragedy as
“Zaka volunteers are often called in to gruesome and
horrifying scenes, and the public probably considered us as tried and
immune to the pain of seeing tragedy unfold. But we are not immune to
on the scene I saw a couple of the volunteers standing to the side and
a tear for our friend Aryeh,” he said.
According to Israel Police
Southern District head Cmdr. Yochanan Danino, who also came to the
accident was caused by the minibus driver, who broke through the
barrier despite it being down and despite the warning signals.
“As far as
we can tell, the minibus broke through the barrier and was hit by the
police will be conducting a thorough investigation to determine the
cause of this tragic accident,” Danino said.
He added that initial
interviews with witnesses from the train, and with passengers from the
who were well enough to make statements, strengthened the suspicion that
driver had ignored the warnings.
Zaki Heller, a spokesman for Magen David
Adom, said it was one of the worst disasters the organization had dealt
According to Harel, the crash was unavoidable once the
minibus broke through the barrier.
“It takes a train moving at 130
kilometers per hour 700 m. to arrive at a complete stop. The train
pressed the emergency brake as soon as he saw the vehicle on the track,
unable to stop in time. There was nothing he could do,” he
“Unfortunately, these types of accidents take place far too often
as a result of drivers ignoring the law,” Harel went on. “A complete
these collisions is constructing track overpasses, and these exist on
the railroad crossings across the country. Indeed, such an overpass is
being built on this exact interchange, but has yet to be completed. In
meantime, Israel Railways has a spotter on the track.
In any case,
drivers must adhere to the rules of the road.”
Israel Railways brought a
backup train for the remaining passengers.
As a result of the crash,
train traffic between Tel Aviv and Beersheba was halted. Israel Railways
buses to replace train services.