Tram collision in Prague leaves 18 injured

Tram collision in Prague's Modrany district, photo: CTK

A multiple tram collision occurred in Prague's Modrany district on Monday morning, involving a total of 5 trams. The accident left 18 passengers injured, some of them seriously, and has also raised questions about the safety of Prague's aging fleet of trams. Alena Skodova has the details:

Tram collision in Prague's Modrany district, photo: CTK
The spokeswoman of Prague's Transport Authority, Zuzana Knoblochova, said the first two-carriage tram was standing at a stop while another was arriving at the stop with a broken-down engine. Behind these two, another two trams were stopping for passengers when a fifth slammed full speed into the rear of the last one. Mrs. Knoblochova said that human error was most likely responsible, with the driver either having fallen asleep or having been distracted.

The director of the Transport Authority's Tram Division, Milan Pokorny, says this is the biggest accident he has seen during his seven years in the job. But he says it's too early to say what caused the crash:

"There could have been many causes, from a simple mistake to a possible technical defect on the tram, but to find out the real cause, a thorough technical analysis must be carried out, and it was not possible to do it on the spot immediately after the collision."

From a total of 18 injured passengers, two ended up in intensive care. Thirteen others were taken to three Prague hospitals, some were treated on the spot. The CTK agency reported that rescue workers had to pry some of the injured from the mangled wreckage of the trams.

Tram collision in Prague's Modrany district, photo: CTK
Officials say rain may have been a factor in the accident. Police are now trying to determine what led to the multiple collision. The Tram System press department told me the police investigation was still going on on Tuesday morning, and no more details could be disclosed.

This was the second major tram wreck in six days in the Czech Republic. Last week, 16 people were injured in a tram accident in the West Bohemian city of Plzen. Some drivers told TV Nova that the older trams - which date back to the 60s and 70s - were prone to technical failure, and one said his brakes were unreliable. The Prague tram system has received several dozens of new vehicles in the last five years, but the vast majority are more than 25 years old. This latest accident will raise questions as to the safety of Prague's aging trams.