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United States

At least two dead and dozens injured after trains collide in South Carolina

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 7:50pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 11:20pm

At least two people were killed and 70 others injured Sunday when a train carrying 147 people and a goods train collided in the eastern US state of South Carolina, authorities said.

The Amtrak train – Train 91 – travelling between New York and Miami derailed in Cayce, outside the state capital Columbia, in the collision with the CSX goods train, which took place at around 2.30am (0730 GMT).

Amtrak, the national US railway service, said in a statement that the lead engine derailed along with some passenger cars. Eight crew members and 139 passengers were on board.

US media reported injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to broken bones.

The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department confirmed all passengers had been evacuated. The local Red Cross opened a shelter in a school to help passengers.

Nobody was panicking. I’m pretty sure everybody was asleep and I think people were in shock
Derek Pettaway, passenger

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it was investigating the incident.

Officials added that although 5,000 gallons of fuel spilled following the crash, there was no danger to the public.

“The incident is very near the state farmers’ market and other residential areas but right now, everyone is safe,” said Derrec Becker, public information officer at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

Speaking to CNN, passenger Derek Pettaway said he was travelling south from Philadelphia to Orlando in a sleeper cabin when he was awoken by the impact of the crash.

Pettaway added Amtrak staff evacuated passengers in a “really calm fashion.”

“Nobody was panicking,” he said. “I’m pretty sure everybody was asleep and I think people were in shock.”

It is not known how many people were travelling on the goods train, or whether one of the two trains was stationary at the time of the collision.

The accident is sure to raise questions about the safety of the nation’s railways.

It comes just days after another Amtrak train carrying several dozen Republican lawmakers including US House Speaker Paul Ryan hit a garbage truck in Virginia, killing one person and causing six others, including a congressman, to need hospital treatment.

In December, three people were killed when an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Washington state near the city of Tacoma, sending cars flying off a bridge and onto a busy interstate highway.