Sardinian train crash kills three

Mon, 06/18/2007 - 06:34

Three people including a British tourist were killed when a goods train hit a passenger train on the island of Sardinia on Friday - Italy's sixth fatal train crash since January 2005.

The dead were identified as Anne Elisabeth Beaver, 28, a Swiss-born tourist travelling under a British passport; local commuter Bachisio Arca, 50; and the driver of the passenger train, 45-year-old Cosimo Serra.

Four of the eight passengers on the train were seriously hurt and one of them was taken to an intensive care unit. Three others received minor injuries.

Beever was apparently killed instantly. The impact threw her to the floor and she struck her head on a metal handle.

Her British boyfriend was unhurt but said to be suffering from shock. He sat beside his girlfriend's body for several hours before rescuers convinced him it was impossible to revive her. The couple had been biking across Sardinia and decided to take the train to recover after a particularly gruelling stretch.

The accident happened when the goods train apparently missed a stop signal and ploughed head-on into the small passenger train travelling through the central Sardinian mountains about 30km west of central Sardinia's main city, Nuoro.

For most of the year the 60km line between the industrial city of Nuoro and the small town of Macomer carries students and commuters.

But at holiday times it draws tourists attracted by the rugged scenery and the pleasure of chugging along on vintage, one-car diesel trains.

The line was built some 200 years ago.

The accident sparked renewed calls from rail unions and consumer groups for the government to spend more on track maintenance and safety improvements.

The opposition called on the government to report to parliament on the crash.

Twenty-four people have lost their lives on Italian railways in the last two and a half years.

In the worst accident, 17 people were killed and 15 injured when a goods train hit a passenger train near Bologna in January 2005.

In March 2005, two track maintenance trolley cars collided in Calabria, killing one workman and wounding four others.

In December 2005 a passenger train crashed into the back of another one south of Rome, killing two and injuring 60.

In March 2006 a bus driver was killed and 14 people hurt when an express travelling to Milan's Malpensa Airport hit a local bus crossing the line.

The following May a train driver lost his life north of Turin after jumping from his train when it ran off the tracks.

Last December two goods trains collided near the Brenner Pass, killing the two drivers.