Four persons, including a German couple, were killed when the car in which they were travelling was hit by a train at an unmanned level crossing at Poopally, near Mararikulam, about 15 km from here, around 10.45 a.m. on Sunday.

R. Sundararajan, Circle Inspector of Police, Mararikulam, said Manfred Herbert Gustav Rudolf Hoepfner, 54, and Katrin-Susanne Hoepfner, 47, were tourists from Starnberg, Germany.

The victim Shanimol, 21, a postgraduate student in tourism administration in Bangalore, was an industrial trainee at the beach resort where the couple had checked in with their two children on Saturday.

Antony, 32, alias Thankachen, driver of the tourist car hired from Mararikulam, is among the dead.

They were on their way to a hospital in Cherthala after Katrin fell ill. The driver is believed to have not seen the train because of a curve just ahead of the level crossing. The train dragged the car for about 20 metres.

While the couple and Antony were killed on the spot, Shanimol died on the way to hospital.

The couple's children, Max-Loc Hoepfner, 12, and Rupa Unnati-Katinka Hoepfner, six, were at the resort at the time of accident, Mr. Sundararajan said.

The family had made bookings for a week's stay at the resort. From the details gathered by the police, its house is at Gustav-Meyrink Street No. 7, Starnberg, Germany. The children, German citizens, were understood to have been adopted, with Max-Loc having born in Ho-Chi-Minh-Stadt, Vietnam, and Rupa in Bhubaneswar, the police said.

Shanimol, the resort said, had arrived two weeks ago for a 45-day training. She is the daughter of Shaji, driver at the Arthunkal police station and resident of Valavanadu, near Alappuzha. Antony was a resident of Mararikulam.

The bodies of the couple will be shifted to K.V.M. Hospital, Cherthala, after post-mortem at General Hospital here, most probably on Monday. The German Consulate in Chennai said steps were on to take the bodies and the children to Germany.

The bodies of Shanimol and Antony were handed over to relatives after post-mortem at the Cherthala taluk Hospital.

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