49 people were killed and at least 550 more were injured when a commuter train slammed into the end of the line barrier at a station in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The train crash occurred Wednesday morning, and has left Argentina in a state of shock and mourning, as this is the country’s worst train accident in decades (the last being an accident that killed 200people in 1970).
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has declared a two day mourning period for the victims of the crash, and made the following statement: “The government and people of Argentina give their solidarity and weigh the pain felt by the families of the victims.”
Argentina’s transportation secretary, J.P. Schiavi, told reporters at the scene that the train came into the station too fast, hitting a shock absorbing barrier at the end of the platform, going about 16 mph (26 kph). The force of the impact was enough to smash the front of the engine and crush the lead cars behind it. One of the lead cars penetrated almost 20 feet (six meters) into the car in front of it. Federal Police spokesman Fernando Sostre said that this was the area where they discovered the most fatalities.
City health minister Jorge Lemus stated that about 200 people had serious injuries as a result of the train crash, while Telam reported that more than 460 were hospitalized, their families flooding emergency rooms to wait for news of their loved ones.
Witnesses described the train accident, saying that the impact sounded like a bomb going off. One witness, who called himself Esteban, told the state news agency that, “Suddenly I heard a bang, and many people fell on top of me. I think I had more than 10 people above me. I got out as quickly as I could. I only saw injured people and heard screams.”
Investigations into what caused the Buenos Aires train accident are ongoing, although some people, like political party opposition leader Ricardo Alfonsin, are blaming the state for not providing enough funds to maintain the commuter trains.