The Hitrino disaster in Bulgaria: Engine drivers to go on trial

Written by on May 15, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on The Hitrino disaster in Bulgaria: Engine drivers to go on trial

In connection with the disaster in the Bulgarian village of Hitrino, which was caused by a freight train accident on December 10 of 2016, two engine drivers will go on trial, Deputy Attorney General Evgeni Dikov announced. The trial is supposed to commence at a court in the town of Shumen, before the summer break starts.

Dimitar Mihnev and Radoslav Petkov, who were in the first locomotive, could face jail time. The prosecutors say, “complex technical expertise” had been handed over to the team of investigators who are looking into the case.

At this stage it looks like excessive speed may have led to the derailment of the freight train. Instead of the maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour, the train was travelling at 78 kph, when it reached the station of Hitrino, where it derailed.

As a result, gas tanks mounted on some of the wagons exploded. The huge fireball instantly killed 6 people. One more person died shortly after. Thirty inhabitants of Hitrino were injured and many buildings destroyed or damaged.

Experts who did research on the disaster and the Ministry of Transport seemed to agree the speed violation led to the accident and ultimately to the deadly explosion. Dikov stated, if the first engine driver missed the sign with the maximum speed, his colleague should have seen it and reacted accordingly.

After the accident, several charity activities were started by the Red Cross and religious organisations. Also the European Commission approved a financial aid package.

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Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com