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Three firms face 25 Kaprun tunnel charges

News :

UP TO 25 court orders are expected to be served this year by the Salzburg government against three companies in connection with the Kaprun tunnel fire disaster.

Train manufacturer Swoboda, tunnel operator Funicular Trains Kaprun and the Austrian Traffic Ministry face criminal charges that could lead to prison sentences of up to five years.

Last October 155 people died when a funicular train caught fire in an Alpine tunnel in the Austrian resort of Kaprun.

Five reports totalling 1,700 pages were completed last month and showed that a faulty heater in the driver's cabin caused a hydraulic hose to ignite and start the blaze.

It has emerged that this type of heater should not have been fitted in a train cabin, leading to accusations against the train manufacturer Swoboda.

But Swoboda said the fire was caused by an unforeseeable chain of events and that the hose was not properly protected.

Also at risk from prosecution is Funicular Trains Kaprun, responsible for the tunnel, tracks, design and commissioning of the train. The reports said that insulation material in the tunnel was of a more flammable type that contributed to the fire.

The third party at risk is the Austrian Traffic Ministry, which approved the project details.

Prosecution will identify who is directly responsible for the deaths, which could lead to a five year sentence.

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