‘Worst nightmare’: Dutch rail collision kills 4 children

The accident described as the “worst nightmare of any parent.” (AFP/ANP)
Updated 20 September 2018
0

‘Worst nightmare’: Dutch rail collision kills 4 children

  • Police said they were investigating reports that the brakes had failed on the wagon
  • The train was equipped with a front-mounted video camera that will be used in the investigation

THE HAGUE: Four young children from a Dutch daycare center were killed on Thursday when a train smashed into their electric cart at a crossing, in an accident described as the “worst nightmare of any parent.”
Another child and the woman driving the vehicle were critically injured in the accident in Oss, a town near the German border around 110 kilometers (65 miles) southeast of the capital Amsterdam.
Police said they were investigating reports that the brakes had failed on the wagon, which was taking children from daycare to school, as it approached the level crossing.
Two of the children who were killed were aged four, while the others were aged six and eight, ANP news agency said. Two of the dead youngsters and the injured child, who is 11, come from the same family.
“Today, every family is hit, and the accident leaves a big gap in families, the daycare center and school,” said Wobine Buijs, the mayor of Oss.
The electric cart, known as a Stint, features a Segway-type standing area for the driver at the back and a large plastic box at the front where children sit.
Reports in Dutch media said the 32-year-old woman driving the wagon had screamed for help after somehow ending up between the closed barriers of the level crossing, and that children’s rucksacks could be seen flying in the air when it was hit by the train.
The cart had just dropped some children off at a local school and was on its way to another when the crash happened.
Local police chief Dianne van Gammeren refused to confirm that the driver had tried to stop but the brakes did not work, saying: “I cannot comment on that at the moment, which is part of the inquiry.”
Edwin Renzen, the founder of the Renzen company that makes the Stint wagons, was quoted by NOS broadcaster as saying that “this is the worst nightmare of any parent.”
“This is incomprehensible. We are parents and spent years developing the Stints ourselves. I don’t know what I can do, but I just have to go to Oss,” he was also quoted as saying by the ANP news agency.
Around 3,000 Stints are in use throughout the Netherlands to transport around 60,000 children weekly, according to Renzen.
They are used by many daycare centers to ferry children around towns in the Netherlands, which has a huge network of bicycle paths that they can take.
Officials had earlier said that the children were on a cargo bike, which is similar but smaller and relies on pedal power.
The train, which was carrying 57 passengers from the eastern town of Nijmegen to nearby Den Bosch, was equipped with a front-mounted video camera that will be used in the investigation, officials said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted from an EU summit that he was “deeply affected by the incredibly sad news from Oss where four young children have died in a horrible accident.
“I wish everyone involved much strength with this heavy loss,” Rutte said.
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands said she and King Willem-Alexander “have no words” and that their “thoughts go out to all families who have lost their children“
The head of the Dutch rail infrastructure firm Pro Rail said it was a “day of mourning and sadness.”
“This is a rare blow. There will be a thorough investigation, and we will do our utmost to never let this happen again.”
It was the sixth such accident at the crossing since 1975, ANP said.
In July the Dutch safety board OVV slammed as “unacceptable” the fact that 11 people die in accidents on level crossings every year on average.
It said that “the Netherlands is the only country in Europe with a high volume of train traffic and a large number of level crossings — two features that do not go well together.”


Global police body picks South Korea’s Kim as president over Russian rival

Updated 15 min 30 sec ago
0

Global police body picks South Korea’s Kim as president over Russian rival

  • The US-backed Kim was picked at a meeting of delegates from member nations in Dubai to replace Meng Hongwei
  • His Russian rival's candidacy had unnerved Western nations

DUBAI: Interpol announced Wednesday that Kim Jong-yang of South Korea had been chosen as its new president, beating a Russian official whose candidacy had unnerved Western nations.
The US-backed Kim, acting president of the global police body, was picked at a meeting of delegates from member nations in Dubai to replace Meng Hongwei, who went missing in his native China in September.
Beijing later said Meng resigned after being charged with accepting bribes.
There had been growing calls within Western nations for Interpol to reject Russian candidate Alexander Prokopchuk — a Russian interior ministry official and current Interpol vice president — over fears Moscow could abuse the role to target political opponents.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threw his weight behind Kim, who will serve out Meng’s term until 2020.
“We encourage all nations and organizations that are part of Interpol and that respect the rule of law to choose a leader with integrity. We believe Mr. Kim will be just that,” Pompeo told reporters.
Critics have raised concerns over Russia’s previous applications for Interpol “Red Notices,” or international arrest warrants, to target those who have fallen foul of the Kremlin.
Interpol’s president chairs its General Assembly while day-to-day operations are handled by the organization’s Secretary general Juergen Stock.
In an open letter this week, a bipartisan group of US senators said choosing Prokopchuk would be like “putting a fox in charge of a henhouse.”
“Russia routinely abuses Interpol for the purpose of settling scores and harassing political opponents, dissidents and journalists,” they wrote.
Harriett Baldwin, a minister of state at the British foreign office, told parliament on Tuesday that London would support Kim’s bid.
Anti-Kremlin figures had also raised concerns, including Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who has been repeatedly jailed by authorities.
“Our team has suffered from abuse of Interpol for political persecution by Russia,” Navalny wrote on Twitter. “I don’t think that a president from Russia will help to reduce such violations.”
US National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis echoed the endorsement for Kim.
“As recent events show, the Russian government abuses INTERPOL’s processes to harass its political opponents,” he said on Twitter.
The controversy also comes amid security concerns over accusations of Russian agents attempting to poison an ex-spy in Britain and trying to hack the network of the global chemical weapons watchdog.
Ukraine, deeply at odds with Moscow over its annexation of Crimea and support for separatists, threatened to pull out of Interpol if Prokopchuk prevailed. Lithuania also said it would consider withdrawing from the network.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the US senators’ letter as a “vivid example” of an attempt to interfere in the vote.
Moscow’s interior ministry denounced a “foreign media campaign aimed at discrediting Russia’s candidate.”
But two foes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who have been targeted by international arrest warrants sought by Moscow, also said Tuesday they were launching a bid to get Russia suspended from Interpol for abusing the agency.
The legal challenge was announced by financier Bill Browder, named in multiple Interpol warrants, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky — a former oil baron who spent 10 years in a Russian jail and now lives in exile in London.
“The Interpol constitution has very specific rules which forbid countries who are serial abusers from using the system,” Browder told reporters.
Briefly arrested in Spain this year under a Moscow-issued Red Notice, Browder said the Russian candidacy was an attempt by Putin to “expand his criminal tentacles to every corner of the globe.”
He fought for — and in 2012 secured — US sanctions against Russian officials believed to be involved in the death of his tax consultant, Sergei Magnitsky.
Magnitsky died in jail in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of a $230-million tax fraud.
Russia has rejected the claims and this week announced it was opening a new probe into Browder on suspicion of running a “transnational criminal gang,” even suggesting he was behind Magnitsky’s death.
Russian prosecutors said he would be put on an international wanted list “in the near future.”
Multilingual Prokopchuk worked in tax enforcement before starting as a Russian representative at Interpol in 2006, according to the interior ministry.