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Workers poisoned by a toxic leak in Swiss tunnel

The shape of a man in Loetschberg Tunnel
The five tunnel workers suffered respiratory problems and eye irritation but no hospitalisation was necessary. KEYSTONE / GAETAN BALLY

Five workers were exposed late Tuesday night to a liquid chemical leaking from a freight container which was being transported by train through the Lötschberg tunnel.

There was no danger to the public or the environment, Valais police said on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. The five tunnel workers suffered respiratory problems and eye irritation. They were treated on site and no hospitalisation was necessary, a spokesman for Valais cantonal police told press agency Keystone-SDA.

The substance released was acetic acid and hydrogen. An investigation has been opened by the regional public prosecutor’s office to determine the cause of the leak.

The incident occurred on Tuesday night at about 1:30am. The train had left Goppenstein in canton Valais on its way to Kandersteg in canton Bern. Rail traffic was interrupted while the emergency services intervened, but was restored at about 7:30am.

Adapted from French by DeepL/dkk/ac

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