A cow-train crash Monday morning almost ended in a mass tragedy for approximately 100 passengers when the grazing herd derailed the train. Passengers suffered no injuries although they were shaken up a bit, but 20 cows were killed.
Police credited the train engineer with having prevented massive casualties when a front wheel of the train fell off the tracks several miles north of Be’er Sheva, its final destination after having left Tel Aviv.
Cows were hurled onto an adjacent track, preventing its use, and passengers were taken to buses. A train that already had left Be’er Sheva was stopped at the university station in northern Be’er Sheva, and its passengers were offered bus transportation to the city of Kiryat Gat, the closest station north of the scene of the accident.
The farmer grazing the cows apparently opened a gate near the tracks, allowing the cows to roam freely for food. The train engineer may have seen the herd in time for him to slow down the engine and prevent a worse accident.
Police still are trying to locate the owner of the herd. The area north of Be’er Sheva is largely rural, and grazing land is used by Bedouin and by Jewish farmers.