A 10 to 20 tons rock block, of the size of a car, struck a train in the French Alps on February 8th 2014 (Nice-Matin, Haute-Provence info). Two persons were killed, one person was seriously injured and seven other persons were slightly injured, including the driver (La Provence). Thirty-four passangers were in the train (TF1). About hundred twenty firefighters, with 32 vehicles and 3 helicopters, were involved in the rescue operations (Nice-Matin).
The train had left Nice at 9:25 AM in direction of Digne-les-Bains (Nice-Matin). The accident occured at 11:10 AM near the village of Annot (Nice-Matin), at an altitude of 610 m (Google Earth). The train speed was 30 km/h at the impact time (France3). The block came from a cliff 200 m above the track (Metronews) and it destroyed two rockfall protection nets on its way (La Provence).
Weather conditions seem to have contributed to this event: snow and rain have alterned for about ten days, and freeze-thaw cycling may also have contributed to the rock failure. The track was inspected less than one month before (TF1). Presently the cliff stability is investigated and the protection nets have to be emptied before to start to remove the train (railways clearance will follow afterward)(TF1). The road parallel to the track is presently closed because of the important rockfall risk (Bison futé) and a safety perimeter has been etablished until the results of the geologist expertise are given (La Provence).
Source: Géoportail IGN
Warning: because of numerous incomplete or contradictory information delivered right after the event, we selected what we consider as the most reliable information up to now. The source of each information is indicated in the text.