High speed train hits concrete slabs in northern Germany in suspected sabotage

Passengers have escaped injury after a high-speed train collided with concrete slabs placed over the rails in a suspected attack.

High speed train hits concrete slabs in northern Germany in suspected sabotage
The slabs were found on the track. Photo: Bundespolizei Flensburg
Police are as yet unsure of the motive of the attack. 

The accident took place in the northern German town of Struckum, roughly 50 kilometres south of the Danish border. 

While the accident took place on Monday, police only released a press release on Wednesday after an investigation. 

READ: Police suspect man of faking train attack using manhole covers

Investigators said that the passengers were fortunate that the train avoided a derailment. 

The blocks weighed approximately 80 kilograms, with a spokesperson for the police indicating they may have been placed in order to puncture or otherwise damage the train’s fuel tank. 

The train – a regional express – was travelling at approximately 100 kilometres per hour in the direction of the holiday island of Sylt, when passengers heard a loud bang. 

The driver, who had been unable to see the concrete slabs, immediately stopped the train and activated the emergency alarm. The train was damaged in the incident.

Although the driver or the passengers of the train did not see the perpetrators, they managed to place more concrete slabs on the tracks after the incident. 

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Federal police discovered the new obstructions not far from where the accident had occurred, saying that they appear to have been intended to cause more damage. 

The police are currently looking for witnesses who may have seen something suspicious around the time of the attack. 

Attacks last year

The man was suspected of having strung a steel rope across the tracks running between the southern German cities of Munich and Nuremberg, damaging the front window of a high speed ICE train in October last year.
In another case in December last year, cement blocks were put on the tracks. Islamic State (IS) flags and writings in Arabic were found near the crime scenes, Vienna prosecutors said at the time.

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German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.