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. CenTexan

    I was going to make a comment about this tragedy, but CNN will just remove it. Why oh why CNN?

    February 22, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      How can they remove a comment that you were going to make?

      February 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baycap

      Because you cannot follow simple rules?

      February 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Because the comment you attempted to post was wither grossly insensitive or patently offensive.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • CenTexan

      Sorry, not true. Yesterday they pulled everything I posted and none of it was bad or insensitive. I saw many posts on here that were outrageous and they left those up. Sometimes I think they just randomly start removing posts.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AMERICA 1st

    The engineer shouldnt have been texting!

    February 22, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      That actually happened with a commuter trolley in Massachusetts

      February 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. justathought

    II wonder, I wondeI , I wonder–Why do we only get nothing more than “headline reports”? I wonder: How could a train crash going only 16 mph kill and injure so many people. What does it mean: plowed into a platform....? I alway picture trains running alongside of a platform. I wonder: Who were the injured: passengers or those on the platform, or the train, or both? I wonder: How could a train going 16 mph that came to as sudden stop kill people? I wonder: Did it come to a sudden stop? I wonder: Where were on the platform were the people who were killed or injured
    So many questions–so few answers.

    February 22, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Raven

      The Buenos Aires herald reported that the train failed to brake at the lights, causing it to plow into the end of the platform, and the second car collided into the first, crashing 6 meters (18 feet) into it. I suspect the rest of the train had similar collisions. Once of the first reported fatalities was a boy only 7 years old.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • gizelle

      stop wondering dear you are going to cause yourself a headache..

      February 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • works for me

      Think of it like voltage... it's not the volts that kill... it's the amps, the force behind it all. Moving trains don't slow down very fast especially when it's people slowing it down.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • ahab

      For most people, running fast means about 15 mph. Try running as fast as you can into a brick wall. It's going to be a very painful experience. Now have something that weighs hundreds of tons hit that wall at the same speed. The momentum will be disastrous. It's not surprising that so many were killed. A lot of fender benders are at less than 10 mph, and there are still thousands of dollars of damage to deal with.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      You sure are right. There are far more questions than answers on this one. I still don't quite see how it "plowed into the end of a platform".

      February 22, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      At some point, blunt force trauma becomes overkill. Apparently 16 mph and the chain reaction pile up and twisted metal was enough. People don't really realize how nasty train wrecks can get...in a hurry.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • jsgoyburu

      Most dead are from the first two wagons (the second crashed into the first when it hit the end of the platform, as it was a terminal). The machinist had taken the wheel at the last station. The train had been for repairs until that day.

      The Cirigliano Group (owners of Travelynx and RedCoach in Florida) has the conccesion for train service in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area. They took charge of a state operated bussines in the '90, and they dismantled the service and sold its parts. They still are doing it, operating with 1960's trains, and laying waste to tracks, more so in the Sarmiento line, used mainly by working class people.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • jsgoyburu

      So it's, basically, another Springfield monorail case

      February 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gizelle

    presumably due to faulty brakes, yeah that would do it everytime..

    February 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Truth1

    What a shame...

    February 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BOMBO ©

    There's not much difference except that CBC reports "hundreds" and CNN specifies "600". I'm not sure what your point is. Also, if CBC didn't carry the late western NHL game Saturdays, I would never watch them. I would just delete the channel from my list. Waste of tax money.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nomercy101

    I think it's a conspiracy

    February 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Yeah so they can blame it on UK and invade the Fauklands

      February 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nomercy101

    I guess you can say it was a train reaction, then again do we really care what happened to those dirty commies anyway.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kerry

    At least they can't blame this on England. I guess this will take the pressure off the Falkland Islands for a while. At least until the next politician needs to distract the public from their shortcomings.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. WomenOnGuard

    Human error or malfunction... So sad.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Fluff-Bunny

    If the brakes were faulty, shouldn't the train have arrived SOONER?

    February 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SteveInDenver

    would it be wrong to hope that Mark Sanford was on it?

    February 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat F

      It would just be stupid, Steve.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capitan

      Steve, for the last time, everyone knows he was HIKING.. geez... Hiking!! lol

      February 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Harry Potter

    I guess it didn't make it to platform 9 3/4.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Guest1

    It Argentina. Why should I care?

    February 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe T.

      I know you're just a troll but I will humor you.

      It's because normal people are concerned when disasters strike even if they don't know the people involved. It's called being a human.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe T

      I went away for a while for pushing gramma down the basement stairs

      February 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nanna

    It is hard to watch this on TV with so many dead, injured and people running around not knowing where loved ones are and crying for the dead and I hope they get more help for the injured. This is a terrible accident that happened to these dear people. My heart goes out to them

    February 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5