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Faulty heater caused Kaprun tunnel fire, says inquiry

News

THE REPORT into the Kaprun tunnel fire in Austria which killed 156 people last November is expected to blame a defective heater in the driver's cabin.

Wooden cladding around the heater's ventilator is believed to have caught fire, starting a chain of events that trapped passengers in the tunnel.

A press conference has been called today (Thursday) to announce the findings of the 10 month investigation.

The deaths of 156 skiers and snowboarders travelling on the funicular railway exposed serious weaknesses in arrangements for dealing with fires inside the tunnel.

All but 11 of those on board died within 60m of the train, unable to escape smoke and poisonous fumes being swept up the tunnel, along with the driver of the down train who was trapped near the top of the tunnel.

Meanwhile an Italian engineering company has this week applied for an Austrian licence to install fire fighting systems in tunnels such as those at Kaprun.

The system uses pressurised water in pipes inside the tunnel that can be turned on in the event of a fire. APT Engineering of Italy has already installed the system in two tunnels in Milan.

The system does not put out the fire but allows passengers to escape by attacking the fire in its smaller initial stage.

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