The Hitrino Inferno in Bulgaria: Now Seven Dead and Still No Answers

Written by on December 11, 2016 in Bulgaria, Latest - No comments

Hitrino is a poor village located a few kilometers to the north of the Bulgarian town of Shumen, a village nobody cared about. Then it happened. On Saturday morning at 05:40 a.m., a freight train approached Hitrino, one of many per day. But this one may have been too fast.

Bulgarian media quoted the pointsman at Hitrino railway station, who said the train was traveling at a speed of 110 kilometers per hour when it entered the station, which is located in the first of two curves the tracks make in the village. Considering the kind of cargo this freight train was pulling and considering it was traveling on Bulgarian tracks, through a village with two curves, this was probably far too fast.

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, a former fire fighter and a former official at the Ministry of the Interior, who was on site all day long on Saturday, already called for a thorough criminal investigation into the train derailment, which led to the explosion of a gas tank, and a lot of death and destruction.

According to the Bulgarian authorities, the death toll has risen from five to seven. Considering the sum of statements made by officials and doctors, the conclusion is that it might rise further. As many as 29 were injured, some of them are still in serious condition. The dead and injured lived close to the train tracks. While they were sleeping, the accident happened and destroyed their houses in a matter of seconds. Around the perimeter, everything was set on fire by the explosion.

Throughout the night, firefighters were trying to make sure the other derailed freight train cars with gas did not explode as well, by covering them in foam.

A day of national mourning was set for Monday, December 12th, 2016. Religious leaders, including the Chief Mufti, asked believers to pray. They also started campaigns to help the victims. Most inhabitants of Hitrino seem to be Muslims.

The last deadly train accident in Bulgaria happened in 2008, when nine passengers of a locked sleeper train burned to death.

By Imanuel Marcus

In cooperation with The Sofia Globe

Photo: Ministry of the Interior, Sofia, Bulgaria

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