WARSAW, Poland — Two trains collided head-on in southern Poland late Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring around 50 in what appears to be one of the worst rail disasters in the country in recent years, officials said.
Both trains were traveling on the same track but toward each other and collided head-on, Andrzej Pawlowski, a member of the board of the state railway company PKP, said in an interview on the all-news station TVN24. He said one of the trains, which was traveling south from Warsaw to Krakow, should not have been on the track. The other train, headed from the eastern city of Przemysl to Warsaw, was on the correct track, Pawlowski said.
It wasn't immediately clear how the southbound train ended up on the wrong track. Maintenance work was being carried out on one of the tracks where the collision occurred, in the small town of Szczekociny.
Polish media broadcast images of white and green train cars that were twisted and appeared to be knocked off the tracks.
"Everything indicates that this is one of the most serious railway catastrophes of recent years in our country," Transport Minister Slawomir Nowak told TVN24 in a telephone interview. "There are people who have died, there are many injured people."
Nowak spoke as he was traveling to the site with Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
The state rail company, PKP, said eight people were killed. Another 50 people were injured, 40 of them seriously, said Artur Borowicz, director of a local rescue service.
Dozens of rescue officials and helicopters were deployed to help those injured in the collision.