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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Deaths in Argentina train crash

President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said a train crash had made her feel 'rage'
President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said a train crash had made her feel 'rage'

A speeding commuter train has slammed into another that had stopped between stations during the morning commute in suburban Buenos Aires.

Thursday's crash killed three passengers and injured more than 300 on a line that has been under government control since a deadly crash last year. The state-run train agency dismissed possible brake failure as a cause and suggested that the conductor was at fault.

Satellite images show the train had braked normally at the previous station, and then rolled past four functioning warning signals without stopping before the crash, the agency said: "Before a warning signal, the conductor should completely stop the formation, a situation that did not happen."

Instead, the train accelerated continually from the moment it left the previous station, reaching a speed of 38.5 mph on impact, Transportation Minister Florencio Randazzo said. That is three times faster than the speed on impact of the train that smashed into the Once station on the same line in 2012, killing 51 passengers and injuring more than 700.

The conductors and their assistants on both of the trains involved in the crash were ordered to be detained by a judge for investigation on charges of "wreaking havoc followed by death," the state news agency Telam reported.

Mr Randazzo asked for patience and vowed that those found responsible will be punished. He also said the train workers passed alcohol breathalyser tests before their shifts. "I feel rage and impotence," President Cristina Fernandez said: "I want the justice system to say what happened."

Argentina's independent auditor general, Leandro Despouy, who delivered a blistering report on the causes of last year's crash, suggested that the problems are systemic, due to many years of mismanagement, corruption and disrepair. "We've been warning that this tragedy could happen again," he told Radio de la Red.

The train slammed into the back of another at 7:07 am local time between the stations of Moron and Castelar on the Sarmiento line, which links the Argentine capital's densely populated western suburbs to the Once station. Witnesses described the impact as "explosive," shaking the walls of nearby homes and derailing several of the train cars.

The provincial health ministry said at least three passengers were killed and 315 injured. At least five of the injured were in very serious condition, and one youth's leg had to be amputated, Governor Daniel Scioli said after visiting some of the victims.

Union leader Ruben Sobrero defended the workers and said the train should not have been brought into service after repairs. Opposition politicians said the government bears blame. "The accident puts into evidence the absence of the state, the laziness and the lack of concern for the life of the citizens," Radical party congresswoman Elsa Alvarez said.

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