February 22nd, 2012
07:18 PM ET

50 killed, hundreds injured in Argentina train crash

Editor's noteLea este artículo en español/Read this article in Spanish

[Updated at 11:35 p.m. ET] A train packed with rush-hour commuters plowed head-on into a barrier at a Buenos Aires station Wednesday morning, killing 50 people and injuring hundreds more, officials in Argentina said.

The train failed to stop as it should have, and slammed into the barrier at Once station at Plaza Miserere shortly after 8:30 a.m. local time, rail service owner Buenos Aires Trains said.

Video of the crash aired by Argentina TV station C5N shows people waiting on a platform as the train's front section passes them and the camera. The train then comes to a violent halt, apparently because the front section hit the barrier farther down the track.

The crash caused the train's second section to be pushed 6 meters into the first section, Transportation Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi said, according to the Buenos Aires Herald. (See animated simulation of wreck from C5N)

Did you see the crash? Share your photos and videos with CNN and tell us what you're seeing.

Other video from the scene showed rescuers prying open windows of the twisted train to reach trapped passengers. Crews carried bleeding victims on stretchers through the busy station; some victims were taken to area hospitals by helicopter.

Argentina's president declared a two-day period of mourning.

"The government and people of Argentina give their solidarity and weigh the pain felt by the families of the victims," President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said in a statement declaring the mourning period. Memorials will be held outside Argentina's Government House and Olivos, the presidential residence, the state news agency Telam reported.

"Never in my life had I seen anything like this," Schiavi told reporters hours after the accident.

Shaken passengers told reporters the crash sounded like a bomb blast.

"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," a passenger named Esteban told state news agency Telam. "I only saw injured people and heard screams."

Another passenger, identified only as Fabian, said he "flew 15 (meters) forward due to the impact," the Buenos Aires Herald reported.

"I had people piled on top of me. None of us could move,” Fabian said, according to the Herald.

Another passenger told C5N that shortly before impact, when passengers noticed the train wasn't stopping, some started to shout to others that they should run to the back.

The first two cars of the train - crammed with commuters - were most affected by the crash.

Passengers emerged bruised, some with serious injuries, Schiavi said. More than 460 were hospitalized.

The crash injured more than 600 people, the state-run Telam news agency reported.

Family members flooded local hospitals, clamoring for information about missing loved ones.

Officials were investigating the crash, which was one of the nation's worst in decades.

They will use GPS data, security camera footage, audio recordings from the driver's cabin and maintenance records in their investigation, Schiavi said.

The train stopped at other stations on its route, and data shows that it slowed down as it approached the Once station, Schiavi said.

"It stopped 14 times, and the last time, it didn't stop," he said.

The packed train was traveling at 26 kilometers per hour (16 mph) when it entered the station, he said.

"We do not know what happened in the last 40 meters," he said.

The train's 28-year-old driver had just started his shift and had a good record, the transportation minister said.

Earlier Wednesday, Schiavi said authorities believed there were problems with the train's brakes that caused it to smash into a barrier at the station.

Buenos Aires Trains, which runs the rail service, said it was cooperating with the federal investigation.

"The company sends its condolences to the family members of the deceased passengers and remains very concerned about the health of all the injured people," the firm said in a statement.

Wednesday's crash was among the worst in Argentina's history, Telam reported.

In 1970, 200 people died when two trains crashed north of Buenos Aires.

Eight years later, 56 people were killed when a train hit a truck in Argentina's Santa Fe province, the state news agency reported.

Last September, a crash involving two passenger trains and a bus in Buenos Aires killed at least 11 people.

soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. BAM!

    Reality hits you hard bro!

    February 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Greek American

    From the video they showed on TV, the train had a very high and boxy shape in the front. The material it was built out of did not seem very sturdy either, as it was crumpled. I couldn't tell how it hit the railing but it may have de-railed?
    Either way, sad story to read and too many deaths.

    February 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • elche1967

      AFter a train crash all trains look like a crumbled tin can.

      February 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Karina

    I am from Argentina, but lives in United States of America.
    Some information here is wrong! of course CNN have to believe TELAM, but, the driver said this morning: This train is not in condition to to be in the trail "
    Who listen : Nobody , of course, like always. THIS IS A TRAGEDIC, and the president of course is traying to cover her "ASS".

    February 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Ruth

      They were lucky the train was head on.. if it was comming sideways would of kill everybody..

      February 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. An American

    This is a horrible tragedy. My condolences go out to the families and to the people of Argentina.

    February 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. allenwoll

    ALL brakes fail OFF at once ? ? ? . Poor design !

    BRAKES are supposed to be designed to be Fail-Safe ! !

    They must fail ON, NOT fail OFF ! ! ! . Inconvenient, but lots safer !

    Yet MORE heads must roll ! !

    February 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex

    So much upgrading is needed to the world's aging infrastructure (trains, planes, roads and bridges). This seems like an avoidable tragedy if only the mechanisms were functioning properly and the train's cars were more structurally sound. Money is being spent in excess on luxuries, while the average person has to settle for mediocrity.

    February 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Ruth

      Since Peron Argentina has have many currupt goverments that dedicate themselves to fill their pockets, (That includes Peron)
      The other thing is the underground economy, just like in Greece they have many business that don't pay taxes at all, therefore the country is going bankcrupt, nad in consequece no money for infraestructure projects.

      February 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bingo hall lady

    ...man they got some good lotto numbers in this article...

    February 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. megan

    i think they should be more on task and not get distracted at all

    February 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Isabel

    My condolences to all the families. The gowerment needs to improve how to prevent these repeated tragedies...do you think they can truly handle an official protocol, follow up and finish it???... Seams like is not a priority. One more time inoscents pay consecuances.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Medallon

      That is more because of the endemic corruption of Argentine politics and government. I bet that they will not even look into other trains to see if brakes can be improved or changed.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. AgainstRepubs

    What a tradegy! Some of distant family members live in B A and I will find out soon

    February 23, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Pilar

    Just because we have the luxury of freedom of expression doesn't mean we should abuse it with stupid comments. Lives were lost, people, how can you ignore that? Really? Comparing the situation with Malvinas? Get your head out of your rear ends and have some respect for the people out their mourning their loved ones.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
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