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SALTSJÖBANAN TRAIN CRASH

OFFBEAT

Runaway crash cleaner to train as driver

The 20-year-old cleaner known worldwide after being wrongly accused of crashing a train into a Stockholm house is set to become a train driver, and has also revealed that as the drama unfolded she recalled the fate of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Runaway crash cleaner to train as driver

The cleaner, named only as Sara, explained in an interview with Sveriges Radio (SR) that her employer Arriva is to help in her preparations for the train driver education. The firm has also guaranteed her a lifetime employment in a bid to make amends for the fact that the while recovering from the effects of the crash, the 20-year-old had initially been blamed for having “stolen” the train.

Sara told SR that while she was racing along in the runaway train her thoughts turned to Mexican artist and feminist icon Frida Kahlo.

“It is going so fast, it is going in the wrong direction… I think shall I jump at the next station because it is at ground level. Then I think about something odd, about Frida Kahlo and her accident,” Sara told SR.

Frida Kahlo once said that she had suffered two bad accidents in her life. The first occurred when she was involved in a bus crash in Mexico City in September 1925. A handrail pierced her womb and left her unable to have children.

“So that thought entered my head – watch out for the handrails. That much I remember.”

The harrowing episode ended with the train demolishing the side of a building in the leafy Stockholm suburb of Saltsjöbaden and left Sara with a litany of serious injuries that have taken months to heal. During the time the 20-year-old was asleep in hospital the story had broken worldwide that she was the cleaner who had stolen the train and crashed it into a building.

Media as far afield as Australia and India had picked up the story, which had gained momentum after comments by representatives from transport operator SL and sub-contractor Arriva.

In the immediate aftermath to the accident, Arriva spokesman Tomas Hedenius initially accused the cleaner but later explained that safety breaches were at the source of the high-speed Hollywoodesque drama.

Sara told SR how she had pieced together the story after the fact with the help of media stories and information from friends and relatives. The final forensic report is yet to be completed and Sara explained that she was looking forward to finding out how the media story developed as it did.

“I am awaiting the investigation. That is what I am going to follow up now. Who will be held responsible, the details of what has in fact been said and how they could have concluded that I had stolen it.”

Sara concluded that she is looking forward to the future and how the accident has left her with a renewed faith in life.

“If I can survive that, I can survive anything,” she said.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

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ACCIDENT

Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port

UPDATE: A ferry that ran aground next to islands between Finland and Sweden with nearly 430 crew and passengers on board, was refloated and heading for port, its owners said Sunday.

Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port
The Viking Line ship Grace hit rocks in in the Aland archipelago. Photo AFP

The Viking Line's “Grace” hit rocks on Saturday afternoon while sailing between the Finnish port of Turku and the Swedish capital Stockholm, shortly before a stopover in Mariehamn, in the Aland archipelago, Finland's coast guard said.

The passengers had to spend the night on board, though there was no immediate danger as it was not taking on water. No one was hurt in the incident.

A tug boat helped refloat the ferry in the small hours of Sunday morning, the coast guard said on Twitter.

After disembarking around 260 passengers at Mariehamn, it went on to its home port of Turku in Finland, a Viking Line spokeswoman told AFP Sunday. It would undergo repairs in the coming days, she added.

Although the cause of the accident has yet to be established, the coast guard said there were strong winds in the area at the time.

The company cancelled its Saturday ferry service, which was to have been taken by a smaller vessel, because of a storm warning.

In September, another Viking Line ferry, the Amorella, ran aground on the same Aaland Island and the passengers had to be evacuated.

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