BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A packed train slammed into the end of the line in Buenos Aires' busy Once station Wednesday, killing several people and injuring hundreds of morning commuters, authorities said.
"There are fatalities," said Alberto Crescenti, the city's emergency medical director. He declined to say how many, but when asked about reports that as many as 40 had died, he replied, "It's possible."
Forty deaths would be the highest death toll from a train accident since Feb. 1, 1970, when a train smashed into another at full speed in suburban Buenos Aires, killing 200 people.
Crescenti said at least 550 people were injured, and said that 30 people remain trapped inside the first car, where rescuers carved open the roof and set up a pulley system to extract them.
The commuter train came in too fast and hit the barrier at the end of the platform at about 12 mph (20 kph), smashing the front of the engine and crunching the leading cars behind it; one car penetrated nearly 20 feet (six meters) into the next, Argentina's transportation secretary, J.P. Schiavi told reporters at the station.
Most damaged was the first car, where passengers make space for bicycles. Survivors told the TeleNoticias channel that many people were injured in a jumble of 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.
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.
There have been five serious train accidents since Dec. 2010; the most deadly of these happened last Sept. 13, when a bus driver crossed the tracks in front of an oncoming train, killing 11.
"This machine left the shop yesterday and the brakes worked well. From what we know, it braked without problems at previous stations. At this point I don't want to speculate about the causes," Ruben Sobrero, union chief on the Sarmiento line, told Radio La Red.
The motorman has been hospitalized and the union hasn't been able to speak with him yet, Sobrero added.
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