Two trains collided early Friday morning in Pavas, in the western part of the capital, leaving five people on board in critical condition and 101 more requiring medical attention.
Guillermo Santana, the president of the Costa Rican Railroad Institute (INCOFER), told reporters at the scene of the accident that “human error” was the cause of the collision.
“Everything here indicates the accident was caused by human error and that’s how we’re going to investigate it,” Santana said. “A cut out in radio communication could be one of the causes.”
The Red Cross reported that 245 people total were examined for injuries on site.
Paulo Monge, a Red Cross member in the Greater Metropolitan Area, said the passengers found to be in critical condition were quickly attended to by Red Cross staffers, 70 of whom arrived on the scene.
“The five patients in critical condition were taken to a hospital within 20 minutes of the accident,” he said. The Red Cross worked alongside firefighters, National and Traffic Police, and medics while sorting out the damage done at the accident.
The railway accident occurred just west of Sabana Park, near the intersection of Highway 27 and the Circunvalación belt that runs around the city.
Train accidents in Costa Rica’s Central Valley have featured prominently in the local news lately, mainly due to cars attempting to drive across the railway tracks and getting hit by oncoming trains.
“It’s truly an unfortunate accident,” President Luis Guillermo Solís told a group of reporters during an event in Limón on Friday. “I talked to Mr. Santana, who will be investigating the case with his engineers. As with any disaster with many injuries, there’s not much information available over what really happened. So besides it being an unusual accident between two trains, we need more explanations.”