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Signal-jumping likely cause of Swiss train crash

Swiss investigators pointed to signal-jumping as the likely cause of a head-on train collision in the west of the country.

Granges-Pres-Marnand: Swiss investigators on Tuesday pointed to signal-jumping as the likely cause of a head-on train collision in the west of the country that killed a driver and injured 25 other people.

"The investigation focuses on the likelihood that the train travelling from Payerne failed to respect a signal," Jean-Christophe Sauterel, a police spokesman for Switzerland`s Vaud region, told reporters.

The crash on Monday between two local trains occurred just outside the station in Granges-pres-Mornand, a village between the Geneva and Neuchatel lakes in Switzerland`s French-speaking region.

One train had been travelling from the town of Payerne to the lakeside city of Lausanne, 38 kilometres to the south, while the other was heading north from Lausanne.

The driver of the northbound train, a 24-year-old French citizen who lived in Payerne, was killed in the collision. His body was pulled from the wreckage early today after a frantic rescue operation.

The two mangled trains were still on the track today, with both engines lifted slightly off the ground as workers used beams to prepare to remove them.

The 46 people thought to have been travelling on the two trains were all accounted for, but police did not rule out the possibility of finding other victims as they combed through the remaining wreckage.

"We cannot rule out at this stage that there could be another passenger imprisoned in the wreck," Sauterel said, noting that the carriage carrying the driver who was killed had been smashed in by eight metres.

Jocelyn Corniche, the emergency services` chief physician, said that most of the 25 injuries were light, with two adults and a child still in hospital but not in danger.

The relatively slow speed of the southbound train, 40 kilometres per hour, appeared to be one reason why more people had not died. The speed of the northbound train has yet to be confirmed.

Investigators were trying to learn why the southbound train, operating a slower service between a string of communities, failed to wait for the passage of the faster northbound service, which travels non-stop between Lausanne and Payerne.

Sauterel stressed that criminal responsibility for the crash was not yet under discussion.

Swiss federal railway company CFF offered its condolences to the dead driver`s family and insisted safety was a top priority.


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