Five dead after German train derails near Bavarian resort

At least five people were killed and several others injured after a train derailed near a Bavarian Alpine resort in southern Germany near the Austrian border on Friday, police said.

Five dead after German train derails near Bavarian resort
Emergency services at the scene of the train crash in Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Garmisch-Partenkirchner Tagblatt | Josef Hornsteiner

It happened in the district of Burgrain near the popular holiday resort area of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the state of Bavaria near the Austrian border at around 12.15pm on Friday. 

The regional train was travelling from Garmisch-Partenkirchen towards Munich at the time. 

Police said later on Friday that four people were confirmed to have died in the incident and added that a large rescue operation was underway. The death toll climbed to five on Saturday as a further body was recovered from the wreckage.

Several people are injured. 

READ ALSO: What we know so far about the German train crash in Bavaria

 Carriages of the red-coloured regional train were seen lying on their sides on a grassy area next to a highway.

Rescuers were standing on the top facing side of the carriages, using ladders to climb into the wagons to reach trapped passengers.

“People are being pulled through the windows,” the police spokesman said earlier on Friday.

An aerial view shows the derailed train.

An aerial view shows the derailed train. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/ADAC Luftrettung

Police said about 30 people were injured, with about half of them in hospital receiving treatment.

The accident came as rail officials were nervously watching if a new €9 monthly public transport ticket valid across Germany would lead to overcrowded regional trains over the bank holiday weekend.

Stefan Sonntag of Upper Bavaria’s police force said the regional train was “very crowded and many people were using it, hence the high number of injured”.

School holidays were also starting from Saturday in the two southern German regions Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, raising fears children may count among the train passengers. But Sonntag said he did not have information on that.

A spokesman for the federal police said that three carriages had overturned. It’s unclear what caused the train to derail.

Firefighters, emergency paramedics and police were on the scene on Friday afternoon as part of the rescue mission.

Several injured people were being taken to hospitals. According to a spokesman for the ADAC air rescue service, six rescue helicopters were deployed, three of them from the ADAC, and three from Austria’s Tyrol region.

Deutsche Bahn (DB) closed the line between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Oberau. Replacement transport will be available, DB said.

The scene of the crash near Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Friday.

The scene of the crash near Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Garmisch-Partenkirchner Tagblatt | Josef Hornsteiner

Popular mountain resort Garmisch-Partenkirchen and its surrounding regions are gearing up to host the G7 summit of world leaders later this month.

From June 26-28th, the heads of state and government including US President Joe Biden are due to meet at Schloss Elmau – about 11 kilometres from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Police and soldiers who had been deployed to prepare and secure the site ahead of the summit have now also been diverted to help in the operation.

Germany’s deadliest rail accident happened in 1998 when a high-speed train operated by state-owned Deutsche Bahn derailed in Eschede in Lower Saxony, killing 101 people.

The most recent fatal crash took place on February 14th, 2022, when one person was killed and 14 others injured in a collision between two local trains near  Munich.

In 2017, a collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the western city of Duesseldorf injured 41 people.

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Bavaria hit by severe snowstorms and gales

The German Weather Service (DWD) issued a severe weather warning in several parts of Bavaria on Thursday as the southern state was struck by heavy snowfall and 100km-per-hour winds.

Bavaria hit by severe snowstorms and gales

The heavy snowfall and high winds, which began on Wednesday, caused multiple accidents and delays on roads overnight in several parts of the state, according to police.

Since the early hours of the morning, there were “considerable traffic obstructions throughout Lower Bavaria due to the weather”, a spokesperson for the police said, adding that emergency services had been called out to around 100 incidents in the region.

“There have already been numerous traffic accidents and traffic disruptions due to the weather. Several vehicles have already had to be rescued from ditches and trees removed from the roadways.”

The extreme weather is expected to continue on Thursday across southern and eastern Germany, with “no end in sight” to the heavy snowfall, according to DWD. 

In districts near the Alps and the Bavarian Forest, gusts of up to 100 kilometres per hour and drifting snow are expected, meteorologists reported. 

In the eastern districts and along the Alps, meanwhile, DWD has forecasted severe snowstorms and thunder. In parts of Franconia, Lower Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate, torrential rain will continue throughout Thursday and potentially lead to flooding. 

On Thursday morning, DWD issued a stage 4 weather warning – the highest possible – for multiple districts in the state. Forecasters warned of icy roads, heavy downpours and thunderstorms throughout the day and into the evening.

Berchtesgadener Land, Rosenheim, Passau and Regensburg were among the 13 districts where warnings of severe storms were issued. 

READ ALSO: IN PHOTOS: Germany hit by sudden snowstorms and temperatures as low as -10C

Drivers were urged to take caution on icy roads and DWD also warned of potential avalanches in mountainous areas where up to 1.5m of fresh snowfall was expected.

The rain and snow is set to die down on Friday, but freezing temperatures could lead to icy and slippery conditions for drivers. 

Central and eastern German states – and parts of the Baltic coast – have also been experiencing turbulent storms in recent days, which meteorologists expect to last into Friday. 

By the weekend, however, the high winds and stormy conditions are expected to have largely died down, with overcast skies, patchy rainfall and highs of around 11C.