Dozens killed in Argentina train crash
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Buenos Aires, Argentina (CNN) — A commuter train plowed into a barrier at a Buenos Aires station Wednesday, killing nearly 49 people and injuring hundreds, officials said.
Video from the scene showed rescuers prying open windows of twisted train cars to reach trapped passengers.
Crews carried bleeding victims on stretchers through the busy Once station.
“Never in my life had I seen anything like this,” Transportation Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi told reporters hours after the morning rush-hour accident.
Shaken passengers told reporters the crash sounded like a bomb blast.
“Suddenly I heard a bang, and many people fell on top of me. I think I had more than 10 people above me. I got out as quickly as I could,” a passenger named Esteban told the state news agency. “I only saw injured people and heard screams.”
The first two cars of the train — crammed with commuters — were most affected by the crash.
Passengers emerged bruised, some with serious injuries, Schiavi said. More than 460 were hospitalized.
The crash injured more than 600 people, the state-run Telam news agency reported.
Family members flooded local hospitals, clamoring for information about missing loved ones.
Officials were investigating the crash, which was one of the nation’s worst in decades.
They will use GPS data, security camera footage, audio recordings from the driver’s cabin and maintenance records in their investigation, Schiavi said.
The train stopped at other stations on its route, and data shows that it slowed down as it approached the Once station, Schiavi said.
“It stopped 14 times, and the last time, it didn’t stop,” he said.
The packed train was traveling at 26 kilometers per hour (16 mph) when it entered the station around 8:30 a.m., he said.
“We do not know what happened in the last 40 meters,” he said.
The train’s 28-year-old driver had just started his shift and had a good record, the transportation minister said.
Earlier Wednesday, Schiavi said authorities believed there were problems with the train’s brakes that caused it to smash into a barrier at the station.
Buenos Aires Trains, which runs the rail service, said it was cooperating with the federal investigation.
“The company sends its condolences to the family members of the deceased passengers and remains very concerned about the health of all the injured people,” the firm said in a statement.
Wednesday’s crash was among the worst in Argentina’s history, Telam reported.
In 1970, 200 people died when two trains crashed north of Buenos Aires.
Eight years later, 56 people were killed when a train hit a truck in Argentina’s Santa Fe province, the state news agency reported.
CNN’s Jose Manuel Rodriguez and journalist Marcos Stupenengo contributed to this report.