Passengers evacuated after false bomb alarm on train

Around 50 passengers had to be evacuated from a train in the canton of St Gallen on Tuesday evening amid fears an unattended case contained a bomb.

Passengers evacuated after false bomb alarm on train
Photo: St Gallen police

The case, found just after 9pm on a train from Rheintal, was marked with hand drawn symbols indicating it contained explosives and the words “Danger, weapon”, according to St Gallen police.

It was later found to contain a set of kitchen knives.

“A passenger found the case on a seat and called the emergency services immediately,” a police spokesperson told 20 Minuten.

Following the discovery all the passengers were made to leave the train when it stopped in Rorschach and police then carried out a search.

“To avoid causing panic, the driver just told the passengers a police operation was underway,” the spokesperson said.

The owner of the case was traced thanks to the telephone number that was also found on the case.

Despite the Graubünden resident’s assurances that the case contained only knives, the police were sceptical and insisted he open it himself.

The amateur chef told police he had forgotten the case when he left the train in Landquart.

He said he had put the warnings on it to deter his children from opening it and playing with the knives.

The man may face criminal charges, the police spokesperson said.


Swiss village to be evacuated for ten years over explosion fears

Residents of a Swiss village have been told they may have to leave their homes for over a decade while a nearby World War II munitions store is cleared out.

Swiss village to be evacuated for ten years over explosion fears
Photo: Von Draemmli (Roland Rytz) - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0

The former underground depot at Mitholz, which contains 3,500 tons of weaponry, has partially caved in and many of the explosives are now covered by fallen rocks.

Around half of the arsenal exploded in 1947, killing nine people, but the defence ministry said the risk of a second explosion had been underestimated for decades.

The ministry, which this week launched a consultation about the evacuation, said the risk had now become “unacceptable” and “total evacuation” was the best solution.

“Depending on how the work develops, residents should expect the evacuation to last up to more than 10 years,” the ministry said, adding that the explosives would not be removed until 2031 at the earliest.

It also said a major road passing through the village — a collection of chalet-style homes — could be rerouted and a railway line would have to be covered.

The ministry added, however, that closures of both “may become necessary, at least temporarily”. The consultation will last until April 17.

“If the evacuation creates insurmountable problems… it would still be possible to significantly reduce the risks by covering the depot with rock,” the ministry said.

The defence ministry website said thousands more tons of munitions had been dropped into several Swiss lakes but detonation could be “practically excluded” as the explosives were not as concentrated as at Mitholz.