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World News

Family "devastated" as Christian man in Germany train crash fights for his life

by Aaron James

Mr Norbert Walner is a husband and father-of-two in his mid-forties, and was on the train to work when it crashed in the spa town of Bad Aibling in the southern state of Bavaria.

He is in a critical condition in hospital suffering from internal bleeding, and has had an operation to be put into an induced coma before he has another operation.

Mr Walner is the brother of Dani Menne - a leader at Destiny Church in Rosenheim, which is 7 kilometres from Bad Aibling where the crash happened.

Danni is well-known in the area for leading the Destiny's Angels ministry, which supports refugees in partnership with the local council.

Liam Smith, the pastor of Destiny Church, told Premier's News Hour: "The family - his parents - [are] devastated, and obviously really need our prayers right now.

"We are praying for him and certainly we'd appreciate everyone's prayers for him and his family.

Liam also told Premier how Destiny Church will respond to the tragedy: "People in the Church coming together to pray, pastoral support and comfort, and indeed hopefully be able to be there as people have many questions and, as the Word says, mourn with those who mourn, and cry with those who are shedding tears."

In total 50 people are reported to be seriously injured from the crash with another hundred hurt, meaning fatalities are likely to continue rising.

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

One of the trains totally derailed after the collision, with several carriages overturning.

It's not known yet what caused the crash, but Stefan Sonntag, a German police spokesman, said: "This is the biggest accident we have had in years in this region and we have many emergency doctors, ambulances and helicopters on the scene."

The town of Bad Aibling is close to the border with Austria also under forty miles from the major German city Munich.

The trains crashed at 7am local time, meaning it's quite possible commuters from all over the region - including abroad - may have been in the crash.

Steve Henderson, pastor of Munich International Community Church, told Premier: "Certainly a surprise, a tragedy, that's hit the area... Families suffering, so this is the great trauma that comes to a community like that when that happens."

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

Mr Henderson also told Premier how we can be praying: "Certainly I think praying for the people who are in need and suffering and praying for those who are physically injured seriously and for their ability to get the medical care that they need quickly.

"And for those families of individuals who have been killed, for the opportunity to comfort them and for the opportunity for God to be magnified and the grace of the Gospel to be proclaimed amidst human tragedy."

The operator of the two trains, Bayerische Oberlandbahn, said on its website that the trains both partially derailed and are wedged into each other.

The operator and federal police in Bavaria have activated phone hotlines for families seeking information.

The statement did not address the cause of the crash, and officials declined to comment on it.

Alexander Dobrindt, the German transport minister, has said the train line was fitted systems which should have stopped a crash like today's from happening. 

He said: "Both trains were travelling at around 100 kilometres an hour.

"The area is on a bend so neither train driver would have seen each other, and would not have been able to brake or slow down."

Listen to Premier's Antony Bushfield speaking to Liam Smith on the News Hour:

Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to Steve Henderson:

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