Inquiry into deadly Italy train crash examining antiquated train control

The investigation into the violent head-on train crash in southern Italy that killed at least 25 people is focusing in particular on the antiquated telephone alert system used to advise station masters of trains running on the single track. Recovery operations using a giant crane and rescue dogs continued through the night and into Wednesday to remove the mangled debris of the two commuter trains that slammed into one another just before noon Tuesday in the neat olive groves of Puglia. After visiting the crash site, Premier Matteo Renzi declared it an “absurd” tragedy and vowed to investigate fully.

And surely there was an error. We need to determine the cause of the error.

Cmdr. Giancarlo Conticchio

Union leaders and railway police blamed human error, noting that the particular stretch of track between the towns of Andria and Corato didn’t have an automatic alert system that would engage if two trains were close by and on the same track. Rather, news reports said, the system relied on station masters phoning one another to advise of a departing train. Coroner Franco Introna told the ANSA news agency that 22 bodies were at the morgue, with a 23rd expected to arrive later from Andria. Passengers described being thrown forward violently at the moment of impact, and then trying to free themselves from the tangle of metal, body parts and debris in the scorching midday sun. “I don’t know what happened, it all happened so quickly, I don’t know,” one woman, eight months pregnant, said.

I went to my husband screaming. I pulled him by the legs and feet. I climbed past people in pieces, how sad. There was nothing I could do.

One female commuter