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German high-speed train derails

/ Source: The Associated Press

A German high-speed train hit a tractor and derailed in southern Germany on Thursday, injuring several people, authorities said.

The InterCityExpress train went off the tracks on the route between Basel, Switzerland and the southern German town of Freiburg, said Helmut Mutter, a spokesman for German border police.

He said several people were injured but that there were no immediate reports of any dead.

A winegrower lost control of his tractor on a hill and crashed onto the tracks at about 9:35 a.m. (0735 GMT), Mutter said. The oncoming train then slammed into the tractor and derailed, he said.

A major search and rescue operation was underway at the crash site just north of the Swiss border, Mutter said.

The tractor driver and the train engineer were among the injured, police said.

It was not immediately clear how fast the train was traveling. The InterCityExpress is Germany's fastest train and can reach speeds of at least 150 miles per hour.

A spokesman for train operator Deutsche Bahn said some 70 passengers were on the train and that several people were believed to have suffered injuries.

"It appears that the train did not fall on its side," he said.

In June 1998, an ICE train derailed and slammed into a bridge pillar near the northern town of Eschede, killing 101 people and injuring 105 in Germany's worst train disaster. The train was traveling at about 125 miles per hour.

Investigators believe the accident was caused by a broken wheel.