COPENHAGEN — At least six people were killed in an accident involving two trains in Denmark on Wednesday morning, shutting down the primary artery linking the country’s two main islands.
The accident occurred shortly after 7:30 a.m., as a freight train and a Copenhagen-bound passenger train passed each other on the Storebaelt bridge. But it was unclear just what happened, or how people died.
Banedanmark, which owns and maintains tracks in Denmark, told TV2 that the roof of the freight train had struck the passenger train, but it was not clear if that meant the roof had first broken away. There were 131 passengers and three crew members aboard the passenger train, said DSB, the national train company.
Arne Gram, the police director for Funen island, told reporters that the passenger train had been “struck by an object.” The authorities discouraged any speculation, adding that they would provide more information as soon as it was available.
Both DSB and the police said that six people had died, and the police said that 16 others had been injured.
Pictures from inside the passenger train, posted online, showed carriages littered with broken glass and ceiling panels dangling from wiring.
Very strong winds had led to the closing of the bridge for parts of Tuesday and early Wednesday, but it was not clear whether they had contributed to the accident. Afterward, wind whipped the waters around the bridge into whitecaps and hampered rescue operations.
Fatal railway accidents are rare in Denmark. In 2002, one person died in an accident involving two commuter trains, and the crash of two commuter trains in 2000 killed three people.
The police described the event on Wednesday as an accident, indicating that they had no reason to suspect foul play.
The Storebaelt bridge, which carries train lines and a highway, is the primary link between Funen, which includes the city of Odense, and Zealand, the island that includes Copenhagen. After the accident, the bridge was closed to all traffic. It was partly reopened later in the morning.
Passengers were evacuated to a nearby sports facility, where they were offered psychological support.