Seven dead as train, minibus collide near Kiryat Gat

At least 8 injured; 2 children, pregnant woman killed; train driver said minibus sped past checkpoint, saw the train too late, and then instead of moving, froze on tracks.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
August 5, 2010 19:58
2 minute read.
Train crash in Kiryat Gat

train crash 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)

Seven people were killed and at least 8 were injured when a train collided with a minibus on route 353 near Kiryat Gat Thursday.

All of the casualties  were passengers on the minibus, and there were no injuries reported on the train.
A pregnant woman and two children, aged four and six, were among those killed. Large numbers of police and MDA arrived at the scene.

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In an interview with Channels 2 and 10, the train driver Giora Weiss said that the minibus driver "drove too fast to stop at the checkpoint."

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"Apparently the driver was talking to passengers. He didn't realize at all he was approaching the checkpoint. When he saw he was in danger, instead of moving forward, he stopped on the tracks."

Asked how he felt about the accident, Weiss said "I don't feel guilty - I did everything that I was supposed to do and everything that I teach others to do.

"I saw the eyes one of the [minibus] passengers. It didn't do me good."

Southern District Commander Major General Yohanan Danino commented on the cause of the collision, saying that "according to the evidence, the bus crossed into a forbidden place."

Danino confirmed that all the dead and wounded were passengers of the minibus, and those on the train were unharmed, although several train passengers went into shock.

The wounded were evacuated by helicopter to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon and Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheba.

Israel Railways CEO Yitzhak Harel said that "preliminary examination indicates that the minibus broke a barrier rail. A train loaded with passengers turned on the emergency brakes but was unable to stop. The minibus driver just came at high speed, I do not know why, all the warning systems were working.

"It's a case of one more driver that doesn't follow the rules. Events like this unfortunately happen nearly every day. There's been already five cases this year of a driver running the checkpoint. "

Transportation minister Yisrael Katz commented that "drivers need to learn how to drive responsibly."


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