July 05, 2006

Versatile Vehicles

At last! A conspiracy theory: Last Sunday, a car driver ploughed through Berlin's World Cup pedestrian "fan mile" and injured 26 people. Only because of the fact that there had been no matches on Sunday so that the festival was relatively empty, and a miracle, nobody was killed.

According to Berlin officials, the 33-year-old intentionally broke through a concrete barrier near the capital's landmark Brandenburg Gate in an effort to seek attention. The driver was arrested at gunpoint after his car crashed into a fence in front of a stage. A 55-year-old woman in the passenger seat was also arrested but later released.

A psychiatric disorder was firmly established as the reason for the dangerously erratic behaviour, although responsibility was not excluded. "There is an investigation of attempted murder," police spokesman Bernhard Schodrowski said, who refused to elaborate any further.

The driver was identified as a "German of Indian" origin.

Only yesterday it expired and then only in one single medium (as far as I was able to trace) that the driver is a "German of PAKISTANI" origin. The, according to eye-witnesses headscarfed, woman in the passenger seat was his mother.

Smokescreen number one.

-- Jump Cut --

On Monday, a four-car subway train flew off the rails in Valencia, Spain, killing 41 and injuring at least 45, 12 seriously.

According to the officials and the media, excessive speed is the most likely cause of the accident. Investigators said the train's "black box" indicated it was travelling over 80 km/h (48 mph) on a curved section of track where the maximum speed is limited to 40 km/h (24 mph).

Authorities haven't as yet finally determined what caused the excessive speed. They were, however, quick to rule out any link to terrorism.

The Number One Line, where the accident occurred, is the oldest in Valencia's notabene only 18 years old subway network, and news reports carry several accounts by local citizens that the line is badly maintained and in need of repair.

But then, official accounts say that the network was thoroughly repaired and maintained recently because of the imminent visit of the Pope.

Obsequies took place yesterday evening with sensational news like *gasp* the Spanish Royal Family attending (which is, after all, their job) and that *gasp*gasp* the Pope is praying for the victims (which is, after all, HIS job) dominating the headlines.

In a next step and with lighting speed it was decided that every injured person and the families of those killed will get 30,000 respectively 60,000 Euro, food for contemplation whether to accept or to sue, and which will keep any question of the real cause firmly in the background.

But that shouldn't keep us from making some conjectures, or should it? So what IS the real cause?

At first, news reports said that the driver of the train was hospitalised but not gravely injured: "Castellano afirmó que el conductor del convoy está hospitalizado pero no se encuentra grave" when only shortly later he was declared to be among the dead.

As a possible reason for the excessive speed a dizzy spell or blackout were mentioned: "Se baraja la hipótesis de que el maquinista hubiese sufrido un desfallecimiento..." or, even better, "some indisposition": "Los expertos sospechan que el maquinista pudo sufrir alguna indisposición según un informe dado a conocer esta mañana por la empresa de Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV)."

Interestingly, the name or a name-stub of the driver was not published. What WAS published, however, was the following information: "Respecto al maquinista, el representante de SF señaló que procedía de una familia con tradición ferroviaria, que llevaba como conductor unos seis meses y que había recibido toda la formación requerida. Su relación laboral con FGV estaba establecida a través de una empresa externa mediante una modalidad de contrato conocida como adscripción temporal." The driver comes from a railroading family (whatever that means) who received the necessary training and was made a driver some six months ago. His relationship with the Valencia Railroad company, Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV), is based on a temporary work contract with an agency.

Smokescreen number two?

To quote Gudrun Eussner: Some learn how to fly a jetliner, some how to drive an underground train.

The name of the station where it all happened? Estación Jesús.

The above blog entry relies largely on information and thoughts of Gudrun Eussner. So if there is more than just a hat tip, this is it.

General information in English about the Berlin incident:
World Cup Notes: German driver may face murder charges - Seattle Times - 4 Jul 2006
Berlin festival crash driver investigated - San Jose Mercury News - 3 Jul 2006
Injury toll rises after World Cup crash - Independent Online - 3 Jul 2006

Information in English about the Valencia train wreck HERE.

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