Five Dead and Tens Injured in Train Wreck Near Netanya

Five people were killed and scores of passengers were injured Monday when a train traveling from Tel Aviv to Haifa crashed into a truck stranded on the tracks.

Hana Levi Julian and Hillel Fendel, | updated: 13:21

Authorities have released the names of four of the people who lost their lives in the collision. They are 19-year-old Yehoshua Alon Sorek of Atlit, 27-year-old Susie Lilach of Acco, 30-year-old Lior Albala of Herzliya, and Moni Moshe Paz, age 55, a resident of Kiryat Bialik near Haifa.

The driver of the truck was arrested. He is suspected of having driven under the influence of drugs, and was charged with manslaughter through negligence. Blood tests were taken and results are expected on Tuesday.

Media sources report that two trucks were involved in the crash, and that one had first collided with the other, which pushed one of the trucks on to the train tracks. The driver was pulled out of the car moments before it was struck by the train. Both truck drivers were unharmed.

Another driver testified that he had been involved in a separate accident earlier in the day and that the truck driver had struck his vehicle in a nearby parking lot but fled the scene.

The train set out from Ben Gurion International Airport, east of Tel Aviv at 11:40 am. The collision occurred at the Beit Yehoshua junction near Netanya at noontime on Monday.

Rescue workers were forced to use heavy equipment to extricate six victims who were trapped in the wreck, with five pulled out so far.

Army and other forces carried out the extrication of several trapped passengers, a more than three-hour operation which included the use of a crane. The locomotive was flung onto another train car, and three others were derailed in the crash as well.

A rescue service spokesman, Yeruham Mendola, said that all five of those who were killed had been trapped under a derailed car that was wedged between the locomotive and a third car.

As many as 88 passengers were injured, including at least two in critical condition. Five victims were evacuated to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah, including a husband and wife in moderate condition. Others were taken to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Laniado Hospital in Netanya, Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera, and Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava.

Tens of passengers were injured in the wreck. Several were critically injured but most sustained light wounds.

According to Israel Railways spokesman Michah Sherf, 200 passengers were riding the train at the time of the crash. Three committees were set up to investigate the incident.

Israel Air Force MedEvac (Medical Evacuation) helicopters and some 70 Magen David Adom and other ambulances arrived at the scene, along with ZAKA workers and IDF search and rescue personnel. Firefighters are on site as well to prevent gasoline spillage from igniting and exacerbating the tragedy.

The train reportedly was traveling full speed just before the time of the crash. The train conductor saw that a vehicle had breached the barrier at the junction shortly before the crash, but too late for him to significantly slow the train down.

A passenger told Army Radio, “We just felt we were being crushed. The first two cars derailed and flipped over. We broke the windows by kicking them out with our legs, and that’s how we got out.”

Almost a year ago, on June 21, 2005, a train traveling from Haifa to Be’er Sheva collided with a truck on the tracks near Kiryat Gat, claiming eight lives and leaving more than 150 injured.

Another accident involving a truck occurred, also in the Kiryat Gat area, five years before, claiming the life of the train’s conductor.

Emergency hotline numbers at the hospitals are:
Meir Hospital: 1-255-199
Laniado Hospital: 1-255-191
Hillel Hospital in Kfar Saba: 1-255-166

The Ministry of Absorption hotline in various languages is: 1-255-081-010

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