A high-speed passenger train in the Netherlands collided with heavy construction equipment and derailed near The Hague early Tuesday, killing at least one person and injuring 30, according to emergency services.
The train from Leiden to The Hague collided with a crane on the track near the village of Voorschoten around 3:30 a.m. (0130 GMT), while a freight train collided with the equipment separately, rail operators said.
According to AFP reporters on the scene, the force of the crash landed a front double-decker passenger carriage in a meadow and a second on its side on an embankment, while two carriages remained on the tracks.
Heavy scorch marks could be seen on one carriage, and Dutch media reported a fire had broken out after the accident.
“We heard a bang first and then later a much more intense one,” local resident Chris van Engelenburg, 36, told AFP.
“Then we heard people screaming. It was not good.”
The train was carrying around 50 people when it crashed, Dutch authorities said. Dutch railways regularly run services during the night on key intercity lines.
“One person has died and at least 30 people have been injured. The seriously injured are being taken to hospital, while 11 are at homes of nearby residents,” Hollands Midden emergency services said.
“Specialists are working to secure the train.”
The freight train’s electric locomotive was severely damaged but the driver had been medically examined and was “fine”, operator DB Cargo said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was a “terrible train accident” and confirmed that “unfortunately one person died and many people were injured”.
“My thoughts are with the relatives and with all the victims. I wish them all the best,” Rutte tweeted.
The CEO of Dutch rail network company ProRail, John Voppen, called it a “dark day for Dutch railways.”
Services on the busy link, which is used by trains traveling from Amsterdam to Brussels and Paris, have been suspended and will not resume until the afternoon, according to rail officials.
An AFP journalist reported seeing the crane’s mangled wreckage further down the tracks.
A helicopter and several ambulances were dispatched to transport seriously injured passengers to the hospital. According to Dutch media, some victims were cared for in nearby homes.
Throughout the morning, emergency personnel and rail workers in high-visibility jackets could be seen inspecting the crash site, while a drone flew overhead.
“The damage is massive, I have not seen anything like this. But fortunately, this does not happen often in the Netherlands,” ProRail spokesman Jeroen Wienen told AFP at the scene.
“Several different investigations have now been started and we want to find out exactly what has happened.”
Both the tracks and the electricity lines had been damaged, he added.
“We heard a loud bang and suddenly the lights went out,” an unidentified witness told the local Omroep West television news.
“We couldn’t initially get out of the train because there was no electricity,” said the man, who appeared in a state of shock.
“Eventually we got after what felt like hours,” the man added.
Dutch King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima said they “deeply sympathise” with the victims, adding that “many are now in fear and uncertainty.”
The Netherlands’ worst train disaster happened on January 8, 1962, when two passenger trains crashed at Harmelen, near the central city of Utrecht, killing 93 people and injuring 52 others.
That accident occurred in thick fog when a train driver missed a warning signal and the two trains hit head-on.
One person was killed and six others were injured when a train collided with a hydraulic crane in the central Netherlands in 2016.
Another person died and 117 others were injured in a collision near Amsterdam in April 2012 with reports later saying a driver failed to respect a stop sign.