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The fire in Kaprun cable car

The Kaprun accident was a fire that occurred in an ascending train in the tunnel of the Gletscherbahn Kaprun 2 funicular in Kaprun, Austria, on 11 November 2000. The disaster claimed the lives of 155 people (92 Austrians, 37 Germans, 10 Japanese, 8 Americans, 4 Slovenians, 2 Dutch, 1 English et 1 Czech), leaving 12 survivors (10 Germans and 2 Austrians) from the burning train. The victims were skiers on their way to the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier.
The Gletscherbahn Kaprun 2 was a funicular railway running from Kaprun to the Kitzsteinhorn, opened in 1974. The unit had its fire extinguishers out of the passengers’ reach in the sealed attendant compartments. No smoke detectors existed on board. The passengers had no method of contacting the attendant. The train complied with area safety codes, which did not address the systems installed on the train during its 1993 upgrade.
On 11 November 2000, after the passenger train ascended into the tunnel shortly after 9:00 am, the electric heater in the unattended cabin at the lower end of the train caught fire, due to a design fault. The fire melted through plastic pipes carrying flammable hydraulic fluid from the braking system, resulting in the loss of fluid pressure which caused the train to halt unexpectedly 600 meters into the tunnel (this was a standard safety feature). The train conductor, who was in the cabin at the upper end of the train, realized a fire had broken out, reported it to the control centre, and attempted to open the hydraulically operated doors, but the system pressure loss prevented them from operating.
12 people from the rear of the train who successfully broke a window followed the advice of another escapee who had been a volunteer fire fighter for 20 years, and travelled downward past the fire and below the smoke.
Many of the still-trapped occupants had by now lost consciousness due to toxic fumes. Eventually, the conductor was able to unlock the doors, allowing them to be manually forced open by the remaining conscious passengers who spilled out into the tunnel and fled upwards and away from the fire. All the passengers ascending on foot, as well as the train conductor, were asphyxiated by the smoke and then burned by the raging fire.
The conductor and the sole passenger on the railway’s second train, which was descending the mountain in the same tunnel from above the burning carriage, also died of smoke inhalation.
The twelve survivors of the disaster were the passengers who travelled downhill past the fire at the rear of the train, escaping the upward-rising fumes and smoke.
Nearly one year after the fire, the official inquiry determined the cause was the failure, overheating and ignition of one of the electric heaters installed in the conductor’s compartments that were not designed for use in a moving vehicle.

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