Czech train crash kills four, injures more than 20

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Four people died and more than 20 were injured when a passenger express train collided with a freight train in the Czech city of Pardubice late on Wednesday, emergency and government officials said.

In addition to the deaths, three people were seriously hurt and at least 20 suffered light injuries in the crash, which occurred around 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) on the main rail corridor from Prague to the east, Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said.

The Ex 1021 express train, operated by the Czech private service RegioJet, was travelling overnight from Prague to Kosice in eastern Slovakia and onward to the Ukrainian town of Chop, according to the Czech Railway Administration.

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The passenger train had failed to stop at a red light, the Rail Safety Inspection Office said, adding that it was likely to take months to ascertain whether the cause was human error or a technical fault.

The dead included two women from Ukraine, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said, but it was not clear whether the two drivers were also dead.

RegioJet offered support and compensation to the victims in a statement expressing its sorrow.

“We will do everything for a proper investigation,” its owner Radim Jancura said.

Rescue services said more than 300 passengers had been on board, and dozens of police, fire and emergency service units helped to evacuate the carriages.

Footage released by the fire brigade showed that at least one sleeper carriage had been mangled and left the track, and that both trains' locomotives were damaged. Police images showed a line of emergency service vehicles and a helicopter.

Czech Television cited a fire brigade spokesperson saying the freight train was carrying the industrial chemical calcium carbide, but that no leak had occurred as the first two wagons were empty.

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