Death toll of German train crash climbs to 11: police

Berlin (AFP) –


A 47-year-old man succumbed Thursday to his injuries from a deadly train crash in southern Germany, bringing the death toll from the accident to 11, police said.

Two trains travelling at high speed crashed head-on Tuesday, in one of Germany's deadliest accidents in years, with one slicing the other apart, ripping a large gash in its side.

Dozens of people were injured, including 20 who are seriously hurt, police said.

Investigators are seeking to determine if the collision was caused by human error or technical fault, as the line was fitted with an automatic braking system.

Routine checks had found the safety mechanism to be "fully functional" just a week before the crash, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said Wednesday.

One of three black boxes also showed that there was "no technical problem on the line and that the signal handling of the driver was correct," he had said.

Nevertheless, Dobrindt said conclusions could only be drawn after all three black boxes had been analysed.

Two of them have been recovered, but investigators were still trying to find the third.

German media had reported that a signal worker had manually deactivated the automatic signalling system to let the first train -- which was running late -- go past.

That action would have also shut off the automatic braking system, and the station worker had reportedly only realised his colossal mistake when it was too late.

German authorities have not confirmed the reports.

The accident is Germany's first fatal train crash since 2012, when three people were killed and 13 injured in a collision between two regional trains in the western city of Offenbach.

The country's deadliest post-war rail accident happened in 1998, when a high-speed ICE train linking Munich and Hamburg derailed in the northern town of Eschede, killing 101 people and injuring 88.