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10 die in Germany as trains collide head-on after 'safety system failure'

By AP Reporters

Ten people were killed and 90 injured after a head-on crash between two commuter trains in southern Germany yesterday.

The collision happened on a curve on a line near Bad Aibling in Bavaria at around 7am after an automatic safety braking system apparently failed.

The impact tore the trains apart and shredded metal cars, throwing several off the rails and onto their sides.

Emergency units were on the scene within three minutes of the alarm being raised, but with a river on one side and a forest on the other, it took hours to reach some of the casualties.

Police spokesman Stefan Sonntag said: "This is the biggest accident we have had in years in this region."

While rail operator Deutsche Bahn claimed safety systems on the line had been checked last week, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt suggested an automatic braking system had failed to work properly, although he admitted it was too early for a definitive conclusion.

"The site is on a curve," he said. "We have to assume that the train drivers had no visual contact and hit each other without braking.

"We need to determine immediately whether it was a technical problem or a human mistake."

Black boxes from both trains have been recovered and are being analysed in an attempt to discover what went wrong.

Authorities initially reported 150 injured, but federal police spokesman Stefan Brandl later lowered that figure to 89, 10 of whom were seriously hurt.

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