Up to 28 hurt after California train smashes into tractor trailer
A commuter train slammed into a truck abandoned on the tracks today, sending three carriages tumbling on to their sides and injuring 28 people.
The accident in California occurred at around 5.45am about 65 miles north west of Los Angeles. Four people, including the train engineer, had critical injuries.
The truck driver was found several miles away, and authorities were questioning him about why the vehicle was left on the tracks.
Glenn Frisbie was driving to work and sitting at a junction about a block away when the train struck the truck.
He said: "I saw a bright flash, a big fireball and flames, flames going pretty high."
Little was left of the truck except scorched and mangled wreckage, with some debris found in a nearby junction and some close to the tracks.
Oxnard fire battalion chief Sergio Martinez said: "When the crews arrived on scene, it was in flames, the vehicle, and it was pretty much cut in half."
The Metrolink train carrying 48 passengers and three crew was heading from Ventura County to Los Angeles. The injured people were taken to several hospitals.
The locomotive, which was pushing the train from the back, was upright. The stretch of track is straight and that allowed the conductor to see the truck and begin braking, Mr Martinez said.
The train typically would be accelerating out of the Oxnard station at about 55mph, Metrolink spokesman Scott Johnson said.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration were sending investigators to the scene of the crash.
Twenty-five people were killed on September 12 2008, when a Metrolink commuter train struck a Union Pacific freight train head-on in the San Fernando Valley community of Chatsworth. More than 100 people were hurt in one of the worst railway accidents in US history.
Federal investigators later concluded that the Metrolink engineer had been texting moments before the crash and ran through a red light.
In 2005, 11 people were killed and about 180 were injured when a man who later claimed he was suicidal parked his car on tracks in suburban Glendale and fled before an oncoming Metrolink train struck it and derailed, hitting a second Metrolink train.
In 2002, two people were killed and 270 injured when a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train ran through a red signal light and crashed into a stopped Metrolink train in the Orange County community of Placentia.