German police: Train crash death toll up to 11

German police: Train crash death toll up to 11
Posted at 10:35 AM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 11:57:50-05

BERLIN (AP) — Police in southern Germany said Thursday that the death toll from a head-on train collision in Bavaria has risen to 11, after a man succumbed to his injuries two days after the crash.

Authorities are still trying to determine why the crash happened, a task made more difficult by the complicated process of removing the wreckage of the two trains involved.

"Sadly one of the crash victims died in hospital Thursday, raising the number of dead to 11," Bad Aibling police said in a statement, identifying the man only as a 47-year-old from the Munich area.

Twenty people were seriously injured, some of whom are in a grave condition, police said. A further 62 people suffered minor injuries in Tuesday's crash some 60 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Munich. All fatalities were men aged between 24 and 60.

Police said they are still looking for a missing third black box they hope will provide more clues about the cause of the accident.

Two huge cranes were positioned at each end of the crashed trains to remove debris.

Stefan Sonntag, a local police spokesman, said earlier Thursday that several train cars had already been removed, but that it was very difficult to pull apart the two locomotives which were wedged into each other.

"The train engines have to be pulled apart very slowly because they're under a lot of pressure," Sonntag said. "It's very dangerous because metal pieces could burst off during the process."

Authorities are trying to determine why multiple safety measures failed, allowing two trains to travel on the same single-line track and smash into each other. Investigators are considering possible technical errors, human failure or a combination of the two scenarios.

Both Germany's train accident investigation office and local prosecutors are investigating.

Sonntag said it would take some time before any conclusions about the cause of the crash would be published.

The two trains were supposed to pass one another at a station where the track was divided. Also, a safety system installed on much of Germany's huge rail network was supposed to automatically brake trains that end up on the same track heading toward each other. Instead, the two trains slammed into one another on a curve.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn said safety systems on the stretch where the crash occurred had been checked as recently as last week.