2 detained for questioning in Polish train crash

March 5, 2012 - 7:16 AM
APTOPIX Poland Trains Collided

An aerial view taken from a paraglider shows the site of a train crash near the town of Szczekociny, southern Poland Sunday, March 4, 2012. Two trains collided head-on in southern Poland late Saturday, killing more than a dozen people and injuring more than 50 in what appears to be one of the worst rail disasters in the country in recent years, officials said. (AP/Photo/Grzegorz Misiak) POLAND OUT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Two rail traffic controllers have been detained for questioning over a head-on train collision in southern Poland that killed 16 people, a prosecutor said Monday.

The two were in charge of traffic on the route at the time the crash occurred Saturday night near the town of Szczekociny, just north of Krakow, Tomasz Ozimek said. The collision left the front cars of the trains a mangled heap, toppled others, and injured more than 50 people, three of whom remain in serious condition.

The two controllers have not been charged with any crimes and Ozimek refused to reveal further details on the detentions.

Prosecutors and railway traffic experts were still inspecting the site and the wreckage as they gathered evidence in their investigation of Poland's worst train accident in over 20 years.

Emergency workers continued to search the area to be certain that no bodies were left in the wreckage. Sniffer dogs have not detected anyone, but the continued search is a precaution.

The wreckage was removed from the tracks early Monday and technicians were working to restore traffic, possibly on Tuesday.

One of the victims was identified as a Russian citizen, Ozimek said. An American is also among the dead.

Also Monday, Poland began two days of national mourning for the victims. The Polish white-and-red flag was lowered to half-staff at public buildings and entertainment and sports events were canceled.

One train was traveling from the eastern city of Przemysl to Warsaw in the north, while the other — an Intercity train traveling 95 kph (60 mph) on the wrong track — was heading south from Warsaw to Krakow.