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Cranes lift runaway train off whale sculpture in Rotterdam

The train had been left precariously balanced on the whale's tail 10 metres above the ground on Monday.

The front carriage of a Dutch train that landed on a sculpture of a whale’s tail after ploughing through the end of an elevated section of track has been painstakingly lifted clear of the artwork and lowered to the ground.

The train was left precariously balanced on the whale’s tail 10 metres above the ground on Monday, after plunging off the end of a metro line in Spijkenisse, a town on the southern edge of Rotterdam.

Two large yellow cranes worked in tandem on Tuesday, placing chains around the front and rear of the train’s foremost carriage to support it.

Onlookers watch the salvage operation
Onlookers watch the salvage operation (Peter Dejong/AP)

In an operation that started at dawn and lasted into the darkness of evening, workers also cut it loose from another carriage and removed its wheels before the train was lowered slowly to the ground.

About 30 people watching the operation cheered as the front carriage was finally separated from the rest of the train amid gathering darkness and cheered again when it was deposited on the ground.

The train was empty when it crashed on to the sculpture and the driver escaped unhurt, thanks to the whale tail’s unlikely catch.

The local security authority said the driver was interviewed by police on Monday as part of the investigation into the cause of the crash and allowed to go home.

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