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Damaged points 'not to blame' for German derailment

GERMAN FEDERAL Railways Office EBA has denied reports that damaged points contributed to the Eschede train crash, which killed 101 people last June.

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung claimed on Tuesday that investigators and prosecutors were examining a set of points which apparently opened and caused Inter City Express train 884 to derail and plough into a bridge (NCE 11 June 1998). It said that point systems all over the country would now have to be checked.

But a spokesman for EBA, which is the investigating body for all rail accidents in Germany, vigorously denied the claims.

'The train derailed because the steel tyre on one of its wheels failed 5.5km before the bridge. The damage to the points was caused when the broken wheel passed over them,' he said.

The train slammed into a reinforced concrete overbridge at Eschede after its fifth carriage jackknifed at the points. The collapsed bridge caused the other seven carriages and locomotive to concertina at 200km/h.

Official investigations into the cause of the accident continue. The results of the inquiry are expected in two or three months.

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