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Fatal rail crash in Finnish Lapland as freight train strikes lorry

All rail traffic has been halted on the route for an indefinite period and commuters travelling between Kemijärvi and Rovaniemi are being transported by bus.

Poliisiauto sulkee tien.
Police closed of the area around the crash site in Kuusivaara on Wednesday morning. Image: Tapani Leisti / Yle

A truck driver was killed early Wednesday in Kemijärvi when his vehicle was hit by a train at a level crossing.

The lorry was crossing the tracks when it was struck by a cargo train heading east from Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland, some 70 km away. The train’s locomotive derailed as a result of the impact.

One of the train’s two crew members was injured but not critically, authorities say. Police and the Safety Investigation Authority have begun a probe of the accident.

The crash took place around 5 am at the Palojärvi level crossing near the village of Kuusivaara, on a stretch of track between Misi and Kemijärvi.

All rail traffic has been halted on the route for an indefinite period, says the Finnish Transport Agency. Passengers travelling between Kemijärvi and Rovaniemi are being transported by bus.

As of 10.00 am, police were blocking all news cameras and drones from the area due to the ongoing investigation. They said that the driver's family had been notified of his death.

More than two dozen level-crossing accidents this year

According to the Transport Agency, there had been two dozen level-crossing accidents as of early October this year. That was nearly the same number as in all of 2017.

In August, a man was killed in a similar accident in Tervola, west of Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland.

Over the past decade, the annual total has ranged between last year’s 25 and a peak of 51 accidents. The number of deaths has ranged from two to 10.

While last year had one of the lowest number of accidents, it was among the deadliest in recent history. Four people died in a collision between a military transport vehicle and small local train in Raseborg, south-west Finland, in October 2017.

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