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Encyclopedia > Kaprun disaster
The white funicular train is waiting at the valley station. It enters the tunnel where the fire occurred after the short open-air section on the trestles. The tunnel entrance is visible.
The white funicular train is waiting at the valley station. It enters the tunnel where the fire occurred after the short open-air section on the trestles. The tunnel entrance is visible.

The Kaprun disaster was a fire that occurred in an ascending railway car in the tunnel of the Gletscherbahn 2 railway in Kaprun, Austria, on November 11, 2000. The disaster claimed the lives of 155 people, leaving 12 survivors (10 Germans, 2 Austrians) from the burning car. The victims were skiers on their way to the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier. For other uses, see Fire (disambiguation). ... A disused railway tunnel now converted to pedestrian and bicycle use, near Houyet, Belgium A tunnel is an underground passage. ... Overall view of Kaprun One of the reservoirs of the Kaprun Kraftwerk (power project) Kaprun is a small alpine town in the Pinzgau district of Land Salzburg in Austria. ... is the 315th day of the year (316th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display full 2000 Gregorian calendar). ... Panorama view from Kitzsteinhorn The Kitzsteinhorn is a mountain in the main chain of the Alps in the district of Kaprun, Salzburg, Austria. ... This article is about the geological formation. ...

Contents

The train

The train, the Gletscherbahn 2, was a funicular railway running from Kaprun to the Kitzsteinhorn, opened in 1974. This railway had the unusual track gauge of 946 millimeters, and a length of 3900 meters, of which 3300 meters was through a tunnel. There were two separate train carriages in two lanes, one of which would carry skiers up the mountain while at the same time the other would descend down the mountain. The carriages each had a capacity of up to 180 passengers. The tunnel led upwards to a terminal in the main reception centre, called the Alpine Centre. Duquesne Incline, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with full length parallel tracks A funicular, also called funicular railway or inclined railway, inclined plane, or in England a cliff railway, consists of a system of transportation in which cables attach to a tram-like vehicle on rails to move it up and down a...


The disaster

On November 11, 2000, 161 passengers and one conductor boarded the funicular train for an early morning trip to the slopes. After the passenger train ascended into the tunnel shortly after 9:00am, the electric heater in the unattended conductor's cabin at the lower end of the train caught fire, due to a design fault. The fire melted through plastic pipes carrying flammable hydraulic fluid from the braking system, and the resulting loss of fluid pressure caused the train to halt unexpectedly (this was a standard safety feature). The train conductor, who was in the cabin at the upper end of the train (which was the front, since the train was ascending), realised a fire had broken out, reported it to the control centre, and attempted to open the hydraulically operated train doors, but the system pressure loss prevented them from operating. The train conductor then lost contact with the control centre because the fire burned though a power cable running the length of the track, causing a total blackout. is the 315th day of the year (316th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display full 2000 Gregorian calendar). ... A furnace is a device for heating air or any other fluid. ... Hydraulic fluids are a large group of mineral oils, water-based or water used as the medium in hydraulic systems. ... This article is about the vehicle component. ...


The passengers, by this stage aware of the fire and unable to exit through the doors, attempted to smash the break-resistant acrylic glass windows in order to escape. Eleven passengers from the rear of the train who successfully broke a window followed the advice of another escaped passenger with who had been a volunteer fire fighter for 20 years, and travelled downward past the fire and below the smoke. Perspex redirects here. ...


Many of the still-trapped occupants had by now lost consciousness due to toxic fumes. Eventually, the conductor was able to unlock the doors, allowing them to be manually forced open by the remaining conscious passengers who spilled out into the tunnel and fled upwards and away from the fire. The tunnel acted like a giant chimney, sucking oxygen in from the bottom and rapidly sent the poisonous smoke, heat and the fire itself billowing upwards. All the passengers ascending on foot, as well as the train conductor, were asphyxiated by the smoke and then burned by the raging fire. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Asphyxia is a condition of severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body. ...


The conductor and the sole passenger on the railway's second train, which was descending the mountain in the same tunnel from above the burning carriage, also died of smoke inhalation. The smoke kept ascending up the tunnel, reaching the Alpine Centre located at the top end of the track 2,500 metres away. Two fleeing workers in the Alpine Centre, upon seeing the smoke, escaped via an emergency exit. They mistakenly left the exit doors open, a factor which increased the chimney effect within the tunnel by allowing air to escape upwards more quickly and further intensifying the fire. Meanwhile, the centre was filled with smoke and all except four people escaped the centre. Firefighters reached the centre and saved one of the four, while the other three were asphyxiated.


The twelve survivors of the disaster were the passengers who travelled downhill past the fire at the rear of the train, escaping the upward-rising fumes and smoke.


Nearly one year after the fire, the official inquiry determined the cause was the failure, overheating and ignition of one of the electric heaters installed in the conductor's compartments that were not designed for use in a moving vehicle. A slow leak of highly flammable hydraulic oil was ignited by the burning heater, which in turn melted the plastic fluid lines further feeding the flames, and also resulting in the hydraulic pressure loss which caused the train to stop and the doors to fail. An electric heater is an electrical appliance that converts electrical energy into heat. ...


Casualties and aftermath

The funicular was never re-opened after the disaster and was replaced by another gondola lift, a 24-person Gletscherjet 1 funitel. The stations were abandoned and the tunnel sealed, and it remains unused today. The victims of the disaster included: Tochal gondola lift carry tourists and skiers to Tochal mountain,Tehran, Iran. ... Squaw Valley Funitel, Jan 2005 A funitel is a type of aerial lift, generally used to transport skiers. ...

On February 19, 2004, Judge Manfred Seiss acquitted all 16 suspects. All suspects - including company officials, technicians and government inspectors - were cleared of criminal negligence. Judge Seiss said there was insufficient evidence to find the suspects responsible for the conditions that led to the blaze. The Austrian Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek incorporated the disaster in her 2003 play In den Alpen (In the alps). “UK” redirects here. ... [[Media:Italic text]]{| style=float:right; |- | |- | |} is the 50th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Criminal negligence, in the realm of criminal common law, is a legal term of art for a state of mind which is careless, inattentive, neglectful, willfully blind, or reckless; it is the mens rea part of a crime which, if occurring simultaneously with the actus reus, gives rise to criminal... Elfriede Jelinek (born 20 October 1946) is an Austrian feminist playwright and novelist. ...


External links

  • BBC News - Flashback: Kaprun ski train fire
  • Info-Plattform zur Tunnelkatastrophe vom 11. November 2000 (German)
  • CNN's coverage of the verdict

  Results from FactBites:
 
Disaster (337 words)
A disaster is an unexpected natural or unintentional man-made catastrophe of substantial extent causing significant property damage or destruction, loss of lives or sometimes permanent changes to natural environment.
Disasters may also be used to refer to unforseen events which devastate a company or industry such as a public relations disaster or a major flop[?].
An attack with much collateral damage may be considered a disaster, such as the attack on KdF Ship Wilhelm Gustloff, 1945, the worst or perhaps second worst maritime incident in history, in terms of loss of life in a single vessel (see also note at the end of the article RMS Titanic).
Kaprun disaster at AllExperts (865 words)
The Kaprun disaster was the result of a fire that occurred in an ascending railway car in the tunnel of funicular train "Gletscherbahn 2" in Kaprun, Austria, on November 11, 2000.
The twelve survivors of the disaster were the passengers from the train who travelled downhill past the fire at the rear of the train, escaping the upward-rising fumes and smoke.
Nearly one year after the fire, the official inquiry determined the cause was the failure, overheating and ignition of one of the electric heaters installed in the driver's compartments that were not designed for use in a moving vehicle.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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