VIDEO - Five people, four men and one woman, were killed Monday and at least 80 injured in a train collision north of Herzliya. The Haifa-bound train struck a car that was stranded on the tracks at about noon, and derailed as a result of the impact. Three train cars overturned.
Four of the victims have been identified: Ilan Shorek, a 21-year-old soldier from Atlit; Moni Paz Moshe, 55, from Kiryat Bialik; Lilach Suzin, 27 from Acre and Lior Albaleh, 30, from Hertzliya.
Israel Railways Chairman Ofer Linczewski held a press conference at the Ministry of Transport following the train accident at Beit Yehoshua, near Netanya. Linczewski said that "the train faced an almost impossible situation," when a vehicle became stuck on the tracks. Police arrested the driver of the commercial vehicle involved in a crash, which pushed another vehicle into the tracks, under suspicion that he was under the influence of drugs and for causing death by negligence.
Another driver testified to police that the driver of the Isuzu vehicle struck his car at a nearby parking lot, and that the driver attempted to flee the scene with an arterial tourniquet. As a result of the testimony, blood samples have been taken from the pickup truck driver.
The bodies of all five passengers were recovered by rescue teams from the train's overturned cars.
Most of the passengers were lightly wounded and evacuated to hospitals in the area. Helicopters were dispatched to the scene in order to help with the evacuation.
An initial investigation revealed that two pick-up trucks that were moving alongside the tracks collided
and that one of the vehicles was thrown onto the railroad tracks as a result. The driver was pulled out of the car by other drivers, just seconds before the train struck the truck. The drivers of both trucks were unharmed.
- Emergency number at Laniado Hospital in Netanya: 12-55-191
- Emergency line for immigrants providing information in several languages: 12-55-081010
- Emergency number at Haifa municipality, available 24 hours: 04-8356860
Photo: Ronen Boidak
Magen David Adom emergency services that were dispatched to the scene started resuscitating one of the passengers that was trapped inside an overturned car. Rescue teams used a crane to lift the heavy wreckage to recover the body of a man from the ruins of another car.
About an hour later, paramedics pronounced the death of a young woman and a man who have also been trapped in the first car. Four other people who were trapped inside the train were evacuated by a chopper to the Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva in light-to-moderate condition.
The condition of one of the passengers, currently hospitalized, continues to be moderate-serious.
The scene at the site was terrible. There were crying passengers in shock all over the place. The locomotive, which apparently was the first to derail, was broken in two, with one part lying on its side facing west, and the other alongside the tracks.
Rescue teams at scene of the collision (Photo: Ofer Amram)
In addition, eucalyptus trees that line the tracks were uprooted from the force of the crash. Train doors and other parts are scattered alongside the train, and windows along the front end of the train are broken, either as a result of the crash or of rescue efforts.
Overturned cars (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Eyewitnesses told Ynet that passengers who were trapped inside the train smashed the windows in a bid to escape the overturned wagons. All railroad traffic between Tel Aviv and Haifa has been suspended on both directions.
Sources in Israel Railways told Ynet that shortly before the crash, inspectors warned the train drivers that the barrier near Beit Yehoshua has been breached, but the warning apparently came too late, as the locomotive engineer did not have enough time to brake, and consequently hit the car stranded on the railroad.
Simona, one of the passengers on the train, recounted the accident: "I sat in the car and felt a massive jolt and then the train derailed… a window was broken and we climbed outside. We turned over and I heard cries and screams." According to Simona, "the train was not quite full at the time of the clash."
Another passenger, David, told Ynet: "I can see the first cars that flipped upside down. People are trapped inside and gas is leaking from the train. We were instructed to stay away from the train. Rescue teams are pulling the injured one by one from the cars."
Oren Rice and Meital Yasur-Beit Or contributed to the report