Le plan incliné de Saint-Louis-Arzviller (see Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Louis-Arzviller_inclined_plane) one more time. A really frightening accident occurred on the 4th of July 2013 around noon. According to the paper which front page is shown here it was at exactly 11:40AM and front page news in the region. (As Nicolas Sarkozy still is and, of course, Le Tour de France.)
More or less the same picture, now a bit more sharp. Just when the tourist boat (‘Paris’) partly had entered the caisson, the latter apparently came loose from its clamps and started to glide/fall down. Bare in mind that the difference in level is almost 44,5 meters (close to 150 ft) on a slope of around 40 degrees – which is pretty steep!
‘Paris’ seen from behind in her awkward position. In it were 24 people, 21 passengers and 3 crew. The captain tried to reverse his boat but failed. Lucky him and all people in the boat because, if he would have been successful, the caisson would have gone down like a bomb and the water from the upper part of the canal would have dragged the passenger boat down and then…. well, just use your imagination!
VNF (in other countries BW, EA or RW) employees emptied the upper part of the canal by using a second caisson-connection. The summit level of the canal must have been quickly protected by beams or a stop lock, as there was no news about ships going aground.
The situation stabilized again; canal practically empty and ‘Paris’ on dry land. Luckily nobody got hurt. We passed the inclined plane on the 3rd of July and friends of ours only less than three hours before disaster struck. Prior to ascending our friend noticed a fair amount of (green) hydraulic oil in the canal. When he pointed this out to a VNF-employee she just answered ‘Je l’ai vu’ (I’ve seen it’). If we arrive ever again at this spot, we’ll look differently at this, amazing still, peace of human ingenuity.
This is an extra page, hence 'Week 27a' on top of it. Tomorrow a page entirely about Nancy will be published. We have to be patient a little bit - and you with us, because we want to include a picture of the fireworks, connected to an important French day, being 'Le Quatorze Juillet', today. Fireworks tonight, we are told. As an appetizer this picture shows Nancy's cathedral.