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Train fire causes closure of Simplon tunnel

The Simplon tunnel, a key north-south rail link between Switzerland and Italy, has been closed due to an accident involving a freight train.

A spokesman for Swiss Federal Railways said the train travelling from Italy to Germany caught fire around six o’clock in the morning on Thursday.

The railways spokesman said one of the carriages caught fire for an unknown reason, and the flames eventually spread to the other carriages due to the immense heat inside the tunnel.

No one was seriously injured. By Thursday evening firemen on board special firefighting trains had been able to bring the fire under control.

The wreckage is approximately three kilometres from the tunnel’s southern entrance on Italian soil. The thick smoke billowing out of the south end meant firefighters were only able to approach the burning carriages from the north.

The smoke coming from the tunnel also greatly reduced visibility on the road leading to the Simplon pass, causing the authorities to close it temporarily.

The spokesman said the train was not transporting dangerous goods but mainly household appliances.

On Friday a team was sent in to check the effects of the fire in the tunnel, the Federal Railways said.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR