by Mateusz Zatonski
Sixteen people have been killed and almost sixty injured in a tragic train accident that took place on Saturday evening in southern Poland. A southbound train on its way from Warsaw to Kraków collided with a train travelling from Przemyśl (near the Ukrainian border) to Warsaw. It is not yet certain what was the cause of the accident, but human error is cited most frequently by the authorities, as one of the trains found itself on the wrong track. The country’s Prime Minister and President both visited the site of the crash.
The accident was followed by a widely-praised rescue operation, confirming the effectiveness of the country’s rapid emergency rescue system (450 firemen were on the scene within an hour of the accident which occurred in a relatively remote location). Nonetheless, the tragedy is bound to leave a very bad mark on the country’s promotional campaign ahead of this year’s UEFA European Football Championship, which Poland co-organises with Ukraine. Poland’s railway infrastructure, which will bring a large portion of European football fans into the country, remains largely archaic despite the large-scale modernisation efforts of the current government.
An investigation was launched to determine the exact causes of the crash. In the meantime, the Polish President, Bronisław Komorowski, has declared two days of national mourning on March 5th and 6th to commemorate what has been pronounced the worst railway tragedy in Poland in the last 20 years.