A railroad traffic controller's error was likely a key factor in the head-on collision of two trains that killed 16 people and he will face criminal charges, a prosecutor said Monday.
The investigation so far indicates that the controller, one of two detained for questioning, made a mistake while setting the mechanisms routing the trains, sending one the wrong way down the track at high speed, prosecutor Tomasz Ozimek said. The man will be charged with unintentionally causing a railroad accident, he said in an Associated Press article.
The two men were in charge of traffic on the route at the time the crash occurred Saturday night near the town of Szczekociny, Ozimek said. The collision left the front cars of the trains in a mangled heap, toppled others, and injured more than 50 people, a Washington Post article said.
Ozimek refused to reveal further details of the two controllers, who have not been charged with any crimes.
One of the victims was identified as a Russian citizen, Ozimek said. An American is also among the dead.
One train was traveling from the eastern city of Przemsyl to Warsaw in the north, while the other - an intercity train traveling 60 mph on the wrong track - was heading south from Warsaw to Krakow.
Prosecutors and railway traffic experts were still inspecting the site and the wreckage as they gathered evidence. Emergency workers continued to search the area in precaution to be certain no bodies were left in the wreckage.
The wreck is Poland's worst train accident in over 20 years, the Post said. The nation began two days of mourning for the victims Monday, lowering the Polish flag to half-staff at public buildings and canceling entertainment and sporting events.