At least 2 dead, 70 hurt in South Carolina train collision
Washington: An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 70 others and spilling thousands of gallons of fuel, according to officials.
Amtrak said Train 91, which was carrying eight crew members and 139 passengers, collided with a CSX train near Cayce, S.C., around 2:35 a.m.
"The lead engine derailed, as well as some passenger cars," Amtrak said in a statement.
The Lexington County spokesman, Harrison Cahill, said at a news conference early Sunday that about 70 people with injuries had been hospitalized. He said the injuries ranged from small scratches and bumps to broken bones, but could not say if any were life-threatening.
It was the second major crash involving an Amtrak train in less than a week. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.
The cause of the crash on Sunday was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it was beginning an investigation into the collision.
The train, operating Amtrak's Silver Star service, originated at Pennsylvania Station in New York and was bound for Miami. The Lexington Sheriff's Department said on Twitter that the crash occurred near Charleston Highway and Pine Ridge Road, close to Pine Ridge, SC. All passengers have been removed from the train, officials said. Capt. Adam Myrick of the Lexington County Sheriff's Department said that the uninjured had been taken to a Red Cross reception site. "We know that they are shaken up quite a bit," he said. "We know that this is unlike anything else that they have ever been through, so we wanted to get them out of the cold, get them out of the weather, get them to a warm place." The Red Cross said on Twitter that "disaster trained volunteers" were responding to the accident. Cahill said a hazardous materials team had been called to the site because roughly 5,000 gallons of fuel had spilled as a result of the collision.
"We were able to secure two leaks of fuel from the trains," he said, adding there was "no threat to the public at this time." "This is not our first train derailment," said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, citing a fatal derailment in January 2005. A 42-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern crashed into a smaller train near Granitteville, S.C., killing eight people, injuring more than 200 and leaking chlorine gas.
"It's unfortunate that we have two fatalities," he said of the crash on Sunday. "Our hearts are with those families right now." Senator Tim E. Scott, Republican of South Carolina, also expressed his condolences on Twitter to the families of those killed and those injured. Derek Pettaway, a passenger on the train, told CNN that he had been asleep at the time of the crash, but that officials reacted swiftly and passengers were led off quickly.
"Nobody was panicking, people were in shock more than anything," he said, according to The State's website.
He said it was too dark to see much, but most of the cars he glimpsed ended up off the tracks but upright.
Amtrak has had a number of high-profile crashes and derailments over the years, leading to criticism from consumer advocates and government officials. Federal Railroad Administration statistics have shown that in recent years the agency has had an average of about two derailments a month, accounting for about one-quarter of all the accidents it reports.