A high-speed passenger train derailed just outside London today, killing four people, police said.
More than 20 people were injured in the derailment, which caused at least three cars to overturn, Hertfordshire police said. At least two of those injured were believed to be in serious condition.
Railway officials said the 12:10 p.m. (1110 GMT) train from London’s King’s Cross Station to Leeds in northern England ran off the rails just 14 minutes into its journey.
The crash of the eight-carriage train happened in the Hatfield area of Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside London.
The train was traveling at 115 mph when it went off the track, officials said. Trains on the line reach speeds of 120 mph.
A Reuters photographer at the scene said the locomotive and first few carriages safely negotiated a bend at high speed before the middle carriages careered off the track and down a bank.
“The train was going very fast and it seems to be the middle of train that bore the brunt of it,” transport police said.
Police said the driver of the train was unhurt.
Buffet Car Ripped Open
Helicopter ambulances and eight fire engines rushed to the rescue effort, with three carriages, including the buffet car, derailed. Witnesses said the roof of the buffet was ripped off as the carriages skidded over gravel alongside the track-side.
A spokesman for Great North Eastern Railway, a subsidiary of Bermuda-based Sea Containers, said there were 70 confirmed reservations but it was not clear how many passengers were actually on the train.
The accident appeared to involve only one train, he said, and services were being diverted from the busy east coast line.
Stephen Morgan, a passenger, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that he heard “a big bang” right before the derailment.
“A couple of carriages went over. I grabbed the nearest thing I could grab to get myself a little bit of comfort, and luckily enough I came through all right,” Morgan said.
He described the scene as “mayhem … there were ladies crying and everything.”
Hertfordshire police said they had completed a search of the cars and were convinced no one remained trapped. Most of the passengers were being treated at the scene by ambulance crews, officials said.
Latest in Line of Disasters
While the cause of the accident was not immediately clear, it was the latest to hit Britain’s rail network after a series of derailments and crashes that have sapped public confidence.