A packed train has crashed into the end of the track in a Buenos Aires railway station, killing at least 50 morning commuters and injuring more than 500 others, with the death toll expected to rise, Argentine officials say.
The commuter train came in too fast and hit the barrier at the end of the platform at about 20km per hour, smashing the front of the engine and destroying the coaches behind it, Juan Schiavi, the country's transportation secretary, said at the Once station on Wednesday.
"There are people still trapped, people alive, and there may have been fatalities. We don't know if there are dead people" in the wreckage, Schiavi said.
One coaches penetrated nearly 20ft into the next, he said.
Monica Yanakiev, a journalist at the scene of the train crash, said, that "there are between 30 and 60 people still trapped in the train", with ambulances filling the streets.
"The last report, which has not been confirmed yet, is that a seven-year-old boy apparently died in the crash," she said. "There are three or four hospitals that are crowded with victims" of the accident that occured during rush hour.
Injured by metal and glass
Most damaged was the first coach, where passengers make space for bicycles. Survivors told the TeleNoticias television channel that many people were injured by metal and glass.
Passengers said windows exploded as the tops of train cars separated from their floors. The trains are usually packed with people standing between the seats, and many were thrown into each other and to the floor by the force of the hard stop.
"People started to break windows and get out however they could." one survivor said.
"Then I saw the engine destroyed and the train driver trapped among the steel. There were a lot of people hurt, a lot of kids, elderly."
Many people suffered bruises, and many with lesser injuries were waiting for attention on the Once station's platforms as helicopters and more than a dozen ambulances took the most seriously injured to nearby hospitals.
The motorman has been taken to a hospital and the union has not been able to speak to him yet, Sobrero said.
Ruben Sobrero, union chief on the Sarmiento line, the commuter rail service in Buenos Aires, told local media that reports speculating the crash was caused by the train's inability to stop fast enough due to break problems could not be verified.
"This machine left the shop yesterday and the brakes worked well," he said.
"From what we know, it braked without problems at previous stations. At this point I don't want to speculate about the causes."
Argentina has seen five serious train accidents since December 2010. The most deadly of these happened last September, when a bus driver crossed the tracks in front of an oncoming train, killing 11 people.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|