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Oil Leaking From Cable Car Caused Fire, Magazine Says

November 19, 2000|From Associated Press

VIENNA — Leaking lubricant, set ablaze by flames or intense heat, caused the cable-car fire that killed 155 people in an Alpine tunnel, a newsmagazine reported Saturday.

But investigators, who the day before had suggested that a study of lubricant found at the Austrian site had been inconclusive, called the report speculation.

Germany's Focus magazine said it learned that more than 13 gallons of the flammable liquid had leaked from one of the two driver's compartments at each end of the funicular train. The suspected cause of the leak was a defective wheel or blocked brakes, the magazine said. Then, heat or sparks on the tracks probably ignited the oil, it said.

The investigators declined to comment in detail on the report.

"We can't say anything at all," said Harald Hofmann, gendarmerie spokesman in Salzburg province. "Everything else is speculation."

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