Missouri highway buckles after cargo trains collide at overpass

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 1:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 May, 2013, 4:54am

A highway overpass in Missouri collapsed when rail cars slammed into one of the bridge's pillars after a cargo train collision. Seven people were injured, though none seriously.

The bridge collapsed on Saturday after a Union Pacific train hit the side of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train at a rail intersection. Derailed rail cars then hit columns supporting the highway, causing it to buckle and partially collapse.

The National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into the cause of the train collision, near Chaffee, a town of about 3,000 people.

The crash came more than a week after a commuter train derailment outside in Connecticut that injured 70 people. In northwestern Washington state last week, a bridge collapsed when a truck driver's load bumped against the steel framework.

NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said while the investigations into both collapses are in the early stages, "there is no similarity" between the Missouri accident and the bridge collapse in Washington, which sent two vehicles and three people falling into the Skagit River.

He noted that the 15-year-old Missouri bridge was rated "good" after it was last inspected in February.

Only two vehicles were on the overpass at the time of Saturday's collision. Five people in the vehicles were taken to a hospital, along with a train conductor and an engineer.

The crash derailed about two dozen rail cars hauling scrap metal, cars and car parts, tossing them into the overpass support columns.

Two 12-metre sections of the overpass buckled, sending the cars into the edges of the collapsed sections. A diesel fire also broke out in one of the locomotives after the collision, but was quickly extinguished.