Commuter, Freight Trains Collide In L.A.

(CBS/ AP) A Metrolink commuter train believed to be carrying up to 350 people collided with a freight train Friday, killing 10 people and injuring an unknown number of others, reports CBS News.

Firefighters put out a fire under part of the wreckage and pulled people from a Metrolink car, which was partly torn open and left lying on its side. Several other cars in the Metrolink train remained upright.

The freight train's engine was also turned onto its side, with the rest of the train splayed out like an accordion behind it.

Authorities had no immediate injury count, but county fire Inspector Ron Haralson said he was certain they were numerous.

He said the trains collided at 4:32 p.m. in the Chatsworth area of the San Fernando Valley.

Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell said the train left Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and was headed northwest to Moorpark in Ventura County. She couldn't confirm how many people were on the train, but said that in rush hours there would usually be about 350 people on board.

"We don't know if we hit another train or another train hit us," Tyrrell said.

She said the Metrolink train was being pulled by its locomotive rather than being pushed. The push mode is controversial due to claims that it makes trains more vulnerable in accidents.

Firefighters pulled passengers out a rear door and down a ladder from the toppled commuter car, which had been separated from the rest of the train by several feet. Crumpled and charred freight cars were strewn across the tracks. Dazed and injured passengers sat on the ground and milled about on both sides of the tracks.

The crash happened in an area where the tracks form a "U" shape, about 2,500 feet wide. At the top of the bend is a 500-foot long tunnel that runs beneath Stoney Point Park, popular with climbers for its large boulders.

The worst disaster in Metrolink's history occurred on Jan. 26, 2005, in suburban Glendale, when a man parked a gasoline-soaked SUV on railroad tracks. A Metrolink train struck the SUV and derailed, striking another Metrolink train traveling the other way, killing 11 people and injuring about 180 others. Juan Alvarez was convicted this year of murder for causing the crash.

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