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20 hurt when 2 trains hit head-on in Austria

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VIENNA, Austria — Two passenger trains collided head-on at a railway station west of Vienna on Saturday, injuring 20 people, four of them seriously, railroad officials and a Red Cross spokesman said.

One train was pulling out of Purkersdorf railroad station, six miles west of Vienna, when it crashed with another train that was entering the station.

At first, medical sources said that one of the train drivers overlooked a stop signal, causing the crash. But a spokesman for the Austrian railroad system, who declined to be named, would only say that an overlooked signal was a "conceivable variant."

He said that all trains are equipped with an electronic security system.

Both trains were moving at between 13 and 19 mph when they collided, the spokesman said. Several passengers were injured because they were standing to leave the train, while those injured on the other train were looking for seats when the crash occurred.

It was not immediately known whether any foreigners were injured.

About 100 medics were rushed to the accident scene from nearby towns by medical helicopters and more than 20 Red Cross vehicles, a Red Cross spokesman was quoted as saying by the Austria Press Agency. The injured passengers were taken to area hospitals.

The Austrian Automobile Club said Austria's main western railway line was interrupted for several hours, and international trains had to be rerouted. Witnesses were reported as saying that the front of one of the train was completely destroyed.