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Two dead, 70 hurt in South Carolina train collision

Emergency crews attend to the site of a train collision near Pine Ridge, Lexington County, South Carolina

An Amtrak passenger train collided with a CSX Corp freight train near South Carolina’s state capital on Sunday, killing at least two people on board and injuring at least 70 in the railroad’s third fatal crash in as many months.

Amtrak Train 91 was carrying 139 passengers and eight crew members to Miami from New York when it hit the freight train at about 2:35am local time (0735 GMT) and derailed, injuring at least half its passengers, the railroad said in a statement.

“The lead engine was derailed, as well as some passenger cars,” the statement said.

The passenger train’s locomotive was lying on its side, and the first car was bent and also derailed, although it remained upright, according to images from the scene in the small city of Cayce, South Carolina. At least four cars of the freight train were crumpled, looking like crushed tin foil, but remained on the tracks.

The passenger train was part of Amtrak’ Silver Star Service, and the wreck occurred about 8km south-west of the state’s capital, Columbia. Local media said some 5,000 gallons fuel leaked as a result of the collision.

“The injuries range from cuts and bruises to severe broken bones,” said Derrec Becker, public information officer for South Carolina Emergency Management Division. “All the injured have been transported to local hospitals.”

The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said a shelter for passengers was set up at a nearby middle school. Everyone was off the train, and the Red Cross was assisting them, the department said on its website.

Amtrak and sheriff’s department officials were not immediately available for comment. Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board were headed to the scene, officials said.

In December, three people were killed when an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Washington state. In late January, an Amtrak train carrying Republican members of the US Congress killed one person in a garbage truck with which it collided in Virginia.

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